Rehabilitation and restoration: orthopaedics and disabled soldiers in Germany and Britain in the First World War.

Medicine, conflict, and survival

PubMedID: 25486223

Anderson J, Perry HR. Rehabilitation and restoration: orthopaedics and disabled soldiers in Germany and Britain in the First World War. Med Confl Surviv. 2014;1-25.
This article offers a comparative analysis of the evolution of orthopaedics and rehabilitation within German and British military medicine during the Great War. In it, we reveal how the field of orthopaedics became integral to military medicine by tracing the evolution of the discipline and its practitioners in each nation during the war. In doing so, however, we document not only when and why both medical specialists and military officials realized that maintaining their respective national fighting forces depended upon the efficient rehabilitation of wounded soldiers, but also how these rehabilitative practices and goals reflected the particularities of the military context, civilian society and social structure of each nation. Thus, while our comparison reveals a number of similarities in the orthopaedic developments within each nation as a response to the Great War, we also reveal significant national differences in war-time medical goals, rehabilitation treatments and soldierly 'medical experiences'. Moreover, as we demonstrate, a social and cultural re-conceptualization of the disabled body accompanied the medical advancements developed for him; however, this re-conceptualization was not the same in each nation. Thus, what our article reveals is that although the guns of August fell silent in 1918, the war's medical experiences lingered long thereafter shaping the future of disability medicine in both nations.