London’s Science Museum hosts a lovely virtual collection of objects related to medical history. The object above is described as a “pair of artificial arms for a child, Roehampton, England, 1964, noting that the arts were somehow “gas powered” (?). The chid for whom these arms were designed is understood to be a victim of his mother’s prenatal use of Thalidomide, a drug used to assist with sleep and combat morning sickness throughout the 1950s and up until 1962, when it was associated with thousands of infants born with deformed and diminished limbs. The limbs of this “jacket” were controlled by “by the child’s own short limbs or shoulders touching against sensitive valves on the inner surface of the ‘jacket’.” It’s also noted that most prosthetics of this sort were undoubtedly uncomfortable and usually discarded once the child reached teenage years.
Below are some other orthotics from the same site. Only the tip of the iceberg of what’s offered.
Child’s mechanical spinal support, England, 1940-1960
Child’s mechanical spine and head support, England, 1940-1960
Finger splint, England, 1960-1980
Leg and ankle splint, England, 1940-1960
Wrist and hand splint, England, 1960-1980