animal prosthetics impact
(Source: OrthoPets)

You probably see it all the time – articles on your social media feeds about feel-good stories of domestic pets or wild animals whose lives were changed thanks to prosthetics. These types of stories help warm our hearts, but there is a lot more work that goes into the devices than may meet the eye, and they’re all possible thanks to inventive manufacturing.

Keep on reading to learn more about how these plastic prosthetics are made and the impact they have had for hundreds of animals.

Custom Plastic Prosthetics – How They Are Made

Based on the animal and its specific need for the prosthetic, the process for making a custom piece can vary. But for one prosthetic engineer, his process is down to a science.

Derrick Campana, owner of Animal Orthocare, went to school for orthotics and prosthetics, and when someone came to him to help create a solution for their dog, he answered. And then turned it into a business.

Currently, Campana turns to medical grade plastic, foam, and sometimes even thermoplastic material for most of his projects. There is a specific reason he chooses plastic for his efforts:

“These plastics enable him to craft and mold prostheses that contour to the shape of an animal’s body, while being sturdy enough to provide reliable support for many years. The plastics also help make prostheses more affordable, which is important to many pet owners without insurance to cover veterinarian care.”

One thing also noted in the article is that sadly the need for veterinary doctors to help animals who require prosthetics is high, and there are roughly 200 animals a month that need his help.

Breaking the Mold: The Process Behind Animal Prosthetics

Campana doesn’t go into explicit detail on how these prosthetics are made, but given his history working with human prosthetics, the methodologies are likely quite similar.

However, he has noted that the fittings play out a little differently. Depending on the animal, getting them to hold still for a molding and even the moment he fits the first brace or prosthetic can be stressful, he notes, since you can never really know how an animal will react.

American Veterinarian also talked to Denis J. Marcellin-Little, on the subject. Marcellin-Little is an orthopedic surgery professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine:

“On the material side and on the design and fabrication side, we often use materials adopted by prosthetists for people – we might incorporate a hinge for a pediatric knee into a dog device, or the tamarack hinges used in a human ankle might be incorporated into a dog ankle or elbow.”

3D and the Future of Plastic Prosthetics

Campana recently said he also one day wants to produce 3D prosthetics for a quicker process, and though this method is quite pricey, there are already some other people out there already exploring this technique for humans.

3D Printing and Laser Cutting provider, Sculpteo, has also already made headway in animal prosthetics, in part by using carbon fiber. A recent article on their blog detailed eight different animals that were helped by 3D-printed prosthetics they helped to create.

The Impact Plastic Prosthetics Have Had on Animals

Prosthetics made from plastic and other materials have helped hundreds of animals of all kinds get a second chance at life. From dogs and cats to even eagles and elephants, there is a need for plastic prosthetics for a wide variety of species. And thanks to veterinarians and manufacturing engineers, custom prosthetics have been able to be made to fit every one of them.

There are many reasons an animal could need a prosthetic, from abnormal birth defects to car accidents to even surviving poaching attempts – animals have been faced with different situations that have created their need for custom-made plastic prosthetics.

Cases of Prosthetics Helping Animals

Campana also mentioned that in the past decade, he has helped around 10,000 animals with his custom plastic prosthetics, and since there are thousands of great stories out there, we figured we should share a few that were especially unique or inspiring.

For example, take a look at how a 3D-printed prosthetic came to the rescue for this eagle after his beak was shot by a poacher:

And then we have Hudson, one of the many dogs that Campana has helped over the years. Hudson was taken to Campana to get a new paw. You can learn more about his story in the video below:

Lastly, we have Mosha the elephant, who lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. She has had nine prosthetic legs over the years as she continued to grow!

With the work of veterinarians like Campana, researchers, and the various doctors who are willing to help these animals, their lives have been able to be changed for the better giving them a second chance at a full and rewarding life.

Read More Stories About Plastic Innovations on Our Blog

Interested in reading more on how different plastic innovations have had an impact? Check out some of these blog posts:

Who Is Shini USA

Shini USA is Division of Budzar Industries and a provider of plastics recycling machines to help businesses better dispose of their industrial plastics. We also sell chillers, portable air-cooled chillers, desiccant dryers, and other types plastics processing equipment.

Our assortment of machinery can be utilized in a variety of manufacturing sub-specialties such as:

  • Blow molding
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