A Minnesota company is on a mission to develop prosthetics, braces and pain-relief medical devices for animals that are just as good as those made for humans.
You may have seen the handiwork of veterinary medical device firm Animal Ortho Care. The company enabled a mini dwarf pony named Pumpkin that was born with four deformed legs to walk and even run wearing custom-designed braces. A YouTube video showing the transformation has gotten more than 10 million hits since it first aired last year.
More recently, the company designed and built a prosthetic leg for a Great Dane that was found tied to a pole in his owners’ South Carolina back yard. With no access to food or water and unable to walk, the dog had chewed off his paw in an apparent attempt to free himself from the tether, which was cutting into skin and bone.
Animal control officers transferred the dog to Noah’s Arks Rescue, where, the medical staff feared he would not survive more than a few nights. But survive he did, and the staff renamed him Luke. They ended up having to amputate part of the leg, which had become infected, and Luke was able to walk on three legs.
Many people believe that a three-legged dog will do just fine, but the strain on those legs and on the animal’s back will most likely shorten its life, according to animal prosthetic fabricator Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care. Campana visited Luke at Noah’s Ark and fitted him for a prosthetic leg.
The Animal Ortho Care team considered several prosthetic bracing options for Luke, ultimately settling on a design with a carbon-fiber laminated socket, a removable Aliplast (non-porous/anti-microbial) foam liner and a spring foot made from polypropylene.
“When he puts it down it gives little bit of push,” explained Aneeta Babulal, VP of marketing for Animal Ortho Care, in an interview with Medical Design & Outsourcing. “Instead of just hitting the ground, it pushes back up… It just adds more resistance and it gives more support, like having a normal gait.”
It’s difficult to know how the wearer will take to a new prosthetic, especially if the wearer is an animal.
“After giving him some treats, he actually took to it fairly well, fairly quickly,” Babulal said. “But he was able to run in small, little bursts. He was kind of leaping in the air. It was nice, because he could actually leap and not feel unbalanced.”
Serial medtech entrepreneur Fariborz Boor Boor is president and CEO of Caerus Corp., which acquired Animal Ortho Care and a medtech pain management company for humans, OrthoCor Medical, in 2016. The company bought OrthoCor to use its patented and FDA-cleared pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF) technology to develop veterinary medical devices to alleviate chronic pain in animals. In 2017, Caerus acquired L’il Back Bracer, a canine back-bracing company with patented technology to alleviate pain in dogs who suffer from intervertebral disc disease.
“We continuously innovate,” Boor Boor told MDO. “It’s a very underserved market. The veterinary musculoskeletal and pain management markets are underserved and underdeveloped. We do have the know-how to continue to innovate that space and that’s what we’re doing. Prostheticcs happens to be one segment of that business.”
You can watch a video of Luke before and after receiving his prosthetic leg here.