The O&P EDGE: Ten Years of Excellence, 3,000 Years in the Making

Home > Articles > The O&P EDGE: Ten Years of Excellence, 3,000 Years in the Making

For more than 3,000 years, O&P devices have been enabling individuals to live fuller lives, and for the past ten years, The O&P EDGE has provided valuable, in-depth industry information for prosthetists, orthotists, pedorthists, and related allied healthcare professionals. As we continue our tenth anniversary celebration, we wanted to provide a visual grab bag of upper- and lower-limb O&P devices that have assisted people throughout the ages.


O&P technology has evolved from basic support aids to upper-limb passive hooks and lower-limb passive peg legs to microprocessor-controlled upper- and lower-limb prostheses and functional electrical stimulation (FES) devices. Today's researchers are working on neuroprosthetic technology— starting yet another chapter in prosthetics innovation.

Artwork by Scott McNutt, courtesy of the Amputee Coalition.


Known as the Cairo toe, this ancient leather and wood prosthetic toe is believed to have been worn by a woman between 50 and 60 years of age and dates between 1069 BC and 664 BC.

Photograph courtesy of University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Used with permission from the Cairo Museum, Egypt.



Drawings of the iron prosthetic hand worn by the German knight Gottfried "GÖtz" von Berlichingen (1480- 1562), Germany, to replace the right arm that he lost in battle in 1504

Patent drawing for the first body-powered prosthetic hand, 1857. Inventor: William Selpho.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Patent Office. Construction of Artificial Hands, U.S. Patent 18,021, filed August 18, 1857.



Illustrations of transtibial sockets constructed from a combination of leather and wood, each with a rubber foot. The socket on the left is made to place a large amount of the wearer's weight on the extremity of the residual limb. The socket on the right is designed to hold the end of the residual limb away from the bottom of the socket, with the wearer's weight being distributed along the sides, above the knees, and around the top borders of the socket.

Illustrations from George Edwin Marks. 1908. Manual of Artificial Limbs. New York: A. A. Marks.rk. 1908. http://archive.org/stream/manualofartifici1912mark#page/82/mode/2up (Accessed April 23, 2012.)



Leather socket, circa 1920.

Photograph courtesy of Hanger, Austin, Texas.



Carlton Fillauer presents a 1940s-era prosthesis to Utah Senator Elbert D. Thomas.

Photograph courtesy of Fillauer LLC, Chattanooga, Tennessee.



A polio patient wears a brace during the 1950s polio epidemic. (NCP 2747). OHA 250: New contributed photographs collection. Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC.

(NCP 2747). OHA 250: New contributed photographs collection. Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC.



Ottobock's C-Leg® changed the landscape of lower-limb prosthetics in 1997 with the introduction of a microprocessorcontrolled knee that provided control for both stance and swing phases of gait.

Photograph courtesy of Ottobock, Minneapolis, Minnesota.



Introduced in 2007, the Touch Bionics i-limb™ hand offered individuals with upper-limb amputations the first commercially available myoelectric prosthetic hand with five individually powered articulating digits.

Photograph courtesy of Touch Bionics, Livingston, Scotland.



Continuing the evolution of the industry, the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL), built by a team managed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland, and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Photograph courtesy of DARPA