We report daily on the latest medical devices and studies evaluating their performance on real human subjects. Rarely do we write about prostheses engineered and built three thousand years ago. Today we're following up on a post we published in 2007 regarding a couple ancient Egyptian prosthetic toes that Jacqueline Finch from University of Manchester's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology has been studying. Her goal was to discover whether these toes were simply aesthetic items or maybe they actually were practical for their original wearers.
The money quote from the study article in The Lancet:
My own research used two volunteers with similar amputation sites and suggested that replicas of both ancient Egyptian false toes performed extremely well. Neither design should be expected to be completely efficient in emulating the flexion of the normal left big toe when pushing off. However, high efficiency was recorded by one volunteer when wearing the replica cartonnage prothesis and also when wearing the wooden one (both worn with replica Egyptian sandals). More importantly, no significant elevation in pressure under the sole was recorded although both volunteers found the articulated wooden design to be especially comfortable.
Press release: Mummies' false toes helped ancient Egyptians walk...
Full article in The Lancet: The ancient origins of prosthetic medicine
Flashback: The Cairo Toe
(hat tip: Gizmag and David R!)