Thalidomide prosthetic arms, early 1960s.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 32cm

Thalidomide prosthetic arms, early 1960s.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Prosthetic arms designed for children born without limbs, due to the drug thalidomide. Thalidomide was developed in West Germany in the mid-1950s and was initially used as a sedative and an antiemetic until the discovery that it caused severe foetal malformations. The arms were developed at Princes Margaret Rose Hospital, Edinburgh. The muscles around the child's shoulder blades were used to control movement of one of the artificial arms. The movements were powered by compresed carbon dioxide stored in cylinders in the other 'pasive' arm. Shown here in their showcase in the Upper Wellcome Gallery, Science Museum.

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