See Spot Run (Again)

November 3, 2011

Eva Gusnowski

Remember when you were in a canoe with your brother and he stopped paddling?  How you just wound up going around and around in a circle going nowhere fast?  Now imagine you were a turtle with only one fin.  Pretty much the same idea: the poor bugger’s going nowhere fast (or maybe not so fast seeing as how he's a turtle with only one fin).  And trust me, the turtle’s not the only one with problems doing the locomotion.


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Some animals, whether it be from abuse, negligence, birth defects or accident have lost portions of their limbs and appendages.  Lucky for our furry, hairy, scaly and water-bound friends incredible advancements have been made in the field of animal prostheses.  Just like human prostheses (which, by the way, have been greatly advanced by helping out these animals), the animal versions can take on many forms.  Animals are assessed for function, attempted use of a limb, and available range of prostheses.  Some prostheses strap on to an amputated limb, however these run the risk of sore development at the site of contact, whereas socket limb replacements run a higher risk for infection and irritation.  New limb prostheses use porous metal rods that are drilled directly into the bone, allowing the healing process to anchor the prosthetic to the limb. 

Naki’o was found as a puppy, abandoned in a freezing cellar, frostbite having claimed all four of his paws.  Luckily he was rescued and given a second chance with four…that’s right, four prostheses.  And just look at him run now!


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science in seconds, animal prosthetics, naki'o


Motola the elephant was given perhaps one of the largest prostheses, after having stepped on a landmine that destroyed her front foot.


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An eagle was found with a missing beak after a narrow escape from a poacher’s bullet.  Having previously been fed by handlers, a fitted nylon-composite prosthetic beak has given “Beauty” a new lease on life.


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And those aren’t the only fantastic success stories.  You can read more about Fuji and Winter the tailless dolphins, Stumpy the kangaroo and Oscar, the bionic cat, to name only a few inspiring animals.  And it doesn’t stop at prostheses; orthotic devices such as leg braces, wheel carts and other adaptive devices are helping these beasties out left and right, front and back.  All worth it so we can see spot run, again.



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