Setting up an amputation simulation application takes a little work but is simple to do. The people using the simulation have to combine slight of hand, and acting to carry the illusion to the audience. I will try to explain how we made and use our amputation simulation. The materials can be purchased either through a local medical supply store and or through the Internet. To help with the setting of a Civil War medical unit several fake limbs were purchased through Internet sources that will be listed at the end of these instructions. Over view: A wounded soldier is brought to the medical unit. A bandage is on his leg just below the knee. The surgeon as time permits will check the leg and declare to his assistants or another surgeon that the bone is shattered and the leg will need to come off. The soldier is of course screaming from both pain and the fear of loosing his leg. Assistants will then restrain the patient, give him some form of anesthesia and then cover the patient. Prior to the reenactment starting the table was prepared with an amputation simulation application which is covered by a blanket or table cloth on which the patient is lying. While covering the patient one assistant will slide the patient's leg through a hole in the table and attach the simulation to his leg. Once covered the leg will be exposed for the surgeon. One assistant will hold the leg to keep it steady. Another assistant will attach the tourniquet. This tourniquet will hold the simulation to the patient's leg. The surgeon can help hold the simulation in place while working on the leg as well. The tourniquet should not be too tight as to cut off the circulation in the real leg. The joint between the fake leg and the end attached to the patient is covered with bloody skin colored foam tape. This foam tape is easily cut with the amputation knife. The assistant supporting and holding the leg can give a gentle pull, just enough to expose a small section of the PVC. The exposed portion should be just enough to get the saw blade into. The sound of cutting through the PVC will be heard. The patient can also add to the simulation by reacting to the pain as the PVC is being cut. Once the PVC is cut, it does not have to be all the way through, the amputated part is removed by the assistant and placed on a pile with other fake limbs. A syringe, approximately 30 cc in size, attached to tubing that runs through the application can be used to spray blood into the wound as the knife and saw are used to cut. The syringe can be used by either the patient or by the assistant that is giving the anesthesia. Once the amputation is complete quickly bandage the wound tightly and then move to the next patient.
The assistant or surgeon can check from time to time on the patient to make sure he is waking up well or dying. Materials used: Fake limbs, 2 or 3 inch medical foam tape, skin colored make up and paint, a, 30 cc syringe, tubing and simulated blood, 1/2 inch PVC pipe, 2 1/2 pipe unions, foam rubber and a 2 or 3 litter coke bottle. Corn syrup and Red food coloring; commercial fake blood is available as well. Our fake limbs were purchased from The Chamber of Horrors. The fake limb, to be used in the demonstration, was filled with spray foam. This gave the limb substance and some weight. A 1/2-inch PVC pipe union was then attached to the end of the limb. This allows a short section of 1/2-inch PVC pipe to be inserted into the limb. The surgeon, during the demonstration will later, cut this pipe. The end that is attached to the soldier's leg is made from a large, 2 or 3 litter, coke bottle. The ends are removed and then the bottle is split length wise from one end to the middle of the bottle. The split end will be placed over the soldier's bent knee while his lower leg is extended down through the table. We use a tourniquet over the superior end of the application to hold the bottle to the soldier's leg. The distal end of the bottle is filled with foam rubber colored to resemble the meat or tissue of the soldier's leg with out skin. The tubing is attached to the inside of the bottle and run through the foam rubber. The tip should be just under the surface of the foam rubber so that the blood will look as if it is running out of the rubber. With the tip close to the exposed surface of the foam rubber blood can be squirted as well representing an artery that is bleeding. In the middle of this end of the bottle another 1/2-inch pipe union is secured. The exposed 1/2-inch PVC from the fake limb is then inserted into this pipe union and forms the completed interior joint. The visible line where the two ends meet is then covered with the medical foam tape. Medical foam tape accepts make up or latex skin colored paint very well and remains soft and easy to cut. The completed amputation simulation application is reusable time and again. With just routine maintance the application should last a long time. Fig-A
Fig-B shows the placement of the parts. The tourniquet is placed just above the knee in a position to hold the patient part of the application to the patient. The soldier's leg can be seen extending down and out of the way of the cutting. The ends of the bottle and leg are coated with the foam rubber to give the appearance of tissue. The PVC placement is shown. A gap between the parts shows the area where cutting would be done.
Fig-C shows the 2 parts of the application pushed together. The joint between the parts; shown as the middle line, is covered by the medical foam tape. The other lines represent the placement of the foam tape.
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