The Limb Lab and the Engineering of Manly Bodies

in War's Waste

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780226482538
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226482552 | DOI:
The Limb Lab and the Engineering of Manly Bodies

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This chapter presents a discussion on the Limb Lab, the goal of which was to offer every man a “modern limb.” By masking the disability through mandatory limb wear, rehabilitators tried to delegitimize the disabled veterans' claim to federal assistance once rehabilitation was complete. The creation of the Limb Lab would bring prosthetic design and wear under medical control. After several patient trials, the Limb Lab researchers concluded that the E-Z-Fit Artificial Limb Company had developed a durable, modern-looking limb that closely resembled the shape of a real-life human leg. The E-Z-Leg promised the amputee and the military complete autonomy over the care and construction of his leg. While the fiber E-Z-Leg proved to be insufficient in terms of durability, the army continued to experiment with similar kinds of lightweight, flexible materials, paving the way for the use of early plastics in artificial limb production during World War II.

Keywords: Limb Lab; limb wear; E-Z-Leg; Artificial Limb Company; army; artificial limb

Chapter.  8162 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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