Unidentified orthopaedic patient (1935)

Film, produced by the Orthopaedic Department, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. Source: Wellcome Collection.

Neurologists scrutinised movements to picture the nervous system and its faults, orthopaedists to assess the musculoskeletal system. As a surgical speciality, their review of locomotion also anticipated  future interventions. To look at tendons, muscles, and bones move under the skin was to also plan how to improve these movements, how to restore function, how to normalise pathological patterns, or how to render the human motor more efficient–whether by scalpel, by cast, or by training regime.

Image stills (left to right) from ‘Five male acrobats’ (1934), ‘Posture’ (1928), ‘Arms and Shoulders‘ (1937). Film clips source: Wellcome Collection.