Hank Hill's dad has no shins. Is that reasonable?

I just finished watching the episode of King of the Hill where Peggy Hill is recovering from a skydiving accident. As part of the plot she is being motivated by Hank Hill’s war-hero dad Cotton (sp?). His shins were shot out in the pacific theater of WWII. As a result they removed his shins and he basically walks around with feet on his knees. I think his feet actually work.
Is this a documented type of injury? I have never seen anything like it.

Absolutely not. Cotton lost his shins fighting the Japanese army in World War II. I don’t have a citation, but I think that the first successful reattachment of an amputated limb happened in the late 1970s. Microsurgery didn’t exist in the Forties, and field hospitals wouldn’t have the time to perform one. His losing his shins in The Big One is just a way of adding absurdity to an already absurd character.

(BTW, I love “Cotton’s Plot”, and how he lives up to his promise by dancing the Tennessee Waltz with Peggy on his gravesite..

So could it happen nowadays? And why don’t many characters change clothes ever?

Not really. We still have most of the muscles, nerves and blood vessels needed to use our feet for grasping, and as a result the ankle is pretty different from the knee. Getting all the parts to match up would be pretty much impossible.

That’s normal for animation. It makes the characters easier to animate since they don’t have design new clothes over and over again. It makes a good counter-weight to the gigantic wardrobes most sitcom characters have.

Actually, there are two bones in the lower legs, separating the knee from the ankle. The “shin bone” is the tibia, and behind it is the fibula. I guess, theoretically, the tibia could be removed, leaving only the fibula. But I doubt if you could do much with your legs.

There’s a procedure (I guess pretty much the opposite of in this show) called a rotationplasty, where someone whose knee must be removed (IIRC usually to bone cancer), can have their ankle serve as a knee joint. The foot is re-attached backwards, which apparently allows more normal use of artificial legs.

(My expertise in this area comes from the Discovery Channel and TLC, so double-check before you scrub up.)

I always assumed he lost his legs at the shins. Saying “My dad lost his shins” instead of “My dad lost his feet and lower legs” just seemed like one of the show’s idiosyncricities.

I’ve seen this a couple of times. It’s rather shocking to see if you don’t expect it.

Rotationplasty pictures. Don’t click on the link if pictures of someone with their foot and lower leg attached backwards to their thigh is likely to upset you.

Better function than an above knee amputation, but cosmetically not as appealing.

I pondered the same question. I think Cotton just puts shoes on his stumps. Or maybe has shinless prostheses. But not functioning feet.

How does a surgeon decide which procedure to offer a patient in situations like these?

Or would both options (the rotationplasty and above-knee amputation) be presented and left for the patient to decide?

If both options are presented, how is the patient aided in the decision making process?

I would imagine that rotationplasty is only offered in very specific situations (where the lower leg is healthy, but the knee is severely damaged), and only by surgeons competent and experienced in the procedure.

Usually, if it is appropriate for them to do more than one procedure and a choice must be made, the doctor would present both options to the patient, presenting all the pros and cons, with a suggestion of what they feel would be in that particular patient’s best interest. Of course, if the surgeon feels for one reason or another that one procedure is not advisable, they will recommend only a single course of action.

I would think that in the case of rotationplasty versus above-knee amputation, the patient would be given literature and would probably also be given an opportunity to talk to the medical prosthetiscist, an occupational therapist and physiotherapist, and if possible, to people who have had both procedures.

Ultimately, if the surgeon is willing and able to do both procedures (or to refer to someone who is), the final decision is left up to the patient, who is given as much information and time as is possible (depending on the urgency of their medical situation) to make the decision that suits them best.

Maybe I’m just weird, but when talking about “amputation” my mind focuses a lot more on function than cosmetics. No amputation is going to look normal, and no matter what you do someone would find it freakish. Being able to walk and function, however, is something medicine can do something about these days. “Pretty” can take a back seat to “it works”, at least for me.

Moving right along - with the Hank Hill thing, my initial reaction to the “no shins” thing was “huh?”. Then I settled on one of the bones of the lower leg being gone, with the other intact. Dunno how that would work in real life, though - but hey, this is a cartoon. It doesn’t have to reflect reality.

And finally - my husband doesn’t have a right shin, but his leg wasn’t amputated. He lost the bones below the knee on that side and they were replaced by titanium and plastic on the inside, with an artificial ankle. He’s been walking on it for over twenty years now. Dunno if you can walk with no shins but he’s proof you can get by on one.

Aesthetics are a very important outcome. It’s no good being able to walk (or whatever) but unable to leave the house because you are so self-conscious about what you think people will think, say or act. Sometimes there’s no alternative, but in this case a surgeon and patient would have to weigh up the pros and cons (as irishgirl says).

Nope, he’s shorter now, and his legs go straight from the knee to the ankle. <foghorn leghorn>It’s a joke, son, ah say a joke</fl>

I seem to recall scenes of him in recovery from losing his shins in which he did have feet.

Another Q- does Hank have pre-WWII memories of a tall Cotton?

Did you check out irishgirl’s links?

If I was in a situation where that procedure was offered to me, I’m pretty sure I would a) spent about two weeks curled up in a fetal position, then b) need about another month to think about whether I could wake up every morning for the rest of my life and look down at my foot attached backward.

I have no idea what I’d ultimately decide. I guess I’d probably come around to the practical point of view, but gee whillickers!

Well, Hank was born post-WWII, but Hank did tell Peggy (in the episode referenced in the OP, when Peggy doubts Cotton’s heroism), “Look, all I know is that before the war, he was 6’ 4”."

Two words: “long skirts”

If I was able to go out in public with an inch-and-a-half long bleeding, oozing, puss-dripping gouge on my cheek and half my face covered in bandages for three months I could probably handle a backwards foot. Of the two, to me the wrong-way foot looks a lot less upleasent from an “aesthetic” point of view, not to mention probably not as painful once the healing up is done.