PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Rescuing animals with prosthetics — a new kind of rescue. A team trained at Thomas Jefferson University helps all kinds of animals with injuries and birth defects.
This is a revolutionary kind of prosthetic limb and much more, created by a dream team that started here in Philadelphia.
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“He’s my best friend,” vet tech Lydia Mindek said. “We actually do everything together.”
Mindek says her dog, Trip, can do anything with his prosthetic leg.
“For a dog that has never been able to walk alone, that’s very important,” Mindek said.
Trip, who was born with deformities, was saved from euthanasia by Mindek, who knew exactly who could help.
“We always knew we wanted to solve meaningful problems,” said Alex Tholl
Adam Hecht and Tholl met Mindek when they were all studying industrial design at Thomas Jefferson. Hecht and Tholl went on to create DiveDesign, which makes prosthetics for all kinds of animals.
Meet Wattles, a pet duck fitted with a prosthetic leg and foot and walking normally for the first time.
“It was just amazing to watch him run,” said DiveDesign’s Adam Hecht.
Hecht and Tholl give a second chance to an array of animals – a pig with missing legs is now equipped with wheels, and a goat named Beau has a helmet to protect a missing part of its skull.
“So he definitely needed the helmet,” Hecht said. “I mean, he headbutted everything.”
Hecht and Tholl make animal prostheses using specialized 3D printing technology.
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“It’s the combination of technologies that really make a difference,” Tholl said.
It starts with a mold of the animal being adjusted with an algorithm for a comfortable fit, after which a 3D printer can create a variety of different devices.
“It’s really flexible where it needs to be,” Tholl said, “where the rib cages, where they breathe and move, it bends.”
This is Jango, born with deformed hind legs that made it difficult to move, here equipped with prosthetic wheels that function as hind legs.
There are plenty of cute dogs with new fake parts that can now move and play more easily.
The team even helped a turtle that now has wheels that replace its missing front legs.
“We’ve always known we wanted to solve meaningful problems,” Tholl said.
Their plan was hatched at Thomas Jefferson University.
“This was just an amazing journey for us,” Tholl said, “to help so many animals, people and families. You almost become speeches because of how wonderful it is. It’s not necessarily because we absolutely love animals or that we absolutely love animals.” love prosthetics, it’s just that we like to solve really big problems.”
Hecht and Tholl, who work in North Jersey, also help other companies make bionic parts for animals. The more challenging, the better they say.
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