ORIGINS OF TLA MEDICOLEGAL TREE LOGO – Orthopaedics and the Splinted tree

The TLA Medicolegal logo is not just a pretty picture, the symbol is steeped in history.  How are TLA Medicolegal and orthopaedics entwined?  A history lesson…..

French Physician and Professor of the Medical Faculty in Paris, Nicolas Andry (1658-1742) created the term ‘orthopaedics’ for a new discipline of medicine.  The term appears for the first time in his chief work L’orthopédie ou l’art de prévenir et de corriger dans les enfans, les difformités du corps (Orthopaedia or the art of correcting and preventing deformities in children) published in 1741.  The term is derived from the Greek orthos, which means straight, and paideia, which means education of the child.

Present day orthopaedics is not only indebted to Andry for its name but also for its symbol – the orthopaedic tree.  The image of the splinted tree does not mean a correction of a deformity that has already taken place, but the prevention of its progression to irreversible disability in the growing organism.  Andry explained:

“When a Child begins to walk, while his legs are too weak for his body, you will observe him try to prop his Knees, the one against the other, to support himself.  In this case you ought not to allow him to walk, but make him fit as much as you can, till his Legs become stronger; otherwise they will begin to grow crooked by degrees; afterwards they will bend in the Form of an Arch; and at last will become so deformed, as it will be impossible to help them.  The sooner that you hinder a child to walk when you observe his knees begin, the least in the world, to incline inwards, it will be so much the better; and if from neglecting these precautions, the leg is already crooked, you must apply, as soon as possible, a small Plate of Iron upon the hollow side of the Leg, and fasten it about the Leg with a Linnen Roller … In a word, the same method must be used in this case, for recovering the shape of the leg, as is used for making straight the crooked Trunk of a young Tree.”

The splinted tree is incorporated into the coat-of-arms of almost every orthopaedic association worldwide and the perfect logo for our medicolegal company.