Advances in medical care sometimes come as a result of long and thoughtful work in the laboratory. In 1916, however, medical progress came as a response to the urgent needs of the time. As the Great War raged in Europe, medicines and techniques were invented—or discarded—for helping the massive number of people wounded in war. For patients who had lost limbs or function because of war or disease, medical care became a process of helping the patient regain as much independence as possible.

Often, those in the medical field were employed mostly as an adjunct to the war effort, helping to return soldiers and horses to duty as quickly as possible, or helping to weed out individuals unfit for service in some way.

In a time of tumultuous change, medicine stumbled forward, trying to fill the needs created by wrenching events. For a longer look at the uses of medicine in war and peace, you can peruse the Scientific American Archive at ScientificAmerican.com/magazine/sa