AR-News: (MI - US) Dog gets prosthetic legs in Michigan
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Snugglezzz at aol.com
Sat May 1 16:22:44 EDT 2004
Dog gets prosthetic legs in Michigan
The Associated Press
4/27/2004, 7:59 p.m. ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The 6-year-old patient has two new legs and can walk,
run, sit and frolic. And bark.
After Helen DePinto of Washtenaw County's Webster Township spotted Footsie
the handicapped shepherd mix on television six years ago, she went to Buffalo,
N.Y., and adopted him. Missing the lower halves of his hind paws, Footsie used
to have to tuck his two back legs under his backside and scoot with his front
Now he has prosthetic legs, thanks to an Ann Arbor prosthetist and orthorist
who tackled the project of creating legs for the dog.
In more than 30 years of combined experience with humans, Steve Hoover and
Kenneth Woodard said this was the first time they worked with an animal.
"It wasn't easy," Woodard told The Ann Arbor News for a recent story.
Woodard normally fits braces on humans from head to toe.
"I don't know how many times we spent talking and trying to figure out how we
were going to do this," he said.
The pair spent nearly a year working on the project, which they tackled
"It was fun," said Hoover, who makes artificial limbs for humans. "But it was
a real challenge to improve on what he already had. There were a lot of stops
The key was getting a good cast of Footsie's hind legs, Hoover said. After
several failed attempts, Hoover said they finally made a mold that satisfied
Using a process called vacuum-forming, they shaped a layer of foam and a
layer of plastic over the mold, then added a hard, black shell with tread material
on the bottom, to give Footsie a grip. The shell is fastened to the dog with
a Velcro strap.
"Footsie tried them on when they were done and it was a home run," DePinto
Hoover got involved in the prothesis project after getting a call from Brad
Pearsall, a physical therapist assistant at Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers,
brain injury center in Ypsilanti.
DePinto and Footsie have been visiting clients there for nearly three years
because Footsie works as a certified therapy dog.
"Footsie plays a motivational role here," Pearsall said. "Footsie's disabled,
yet he plays with the clients, he's happy, upbeat and a very well-mannered
dog. It's like he says, 'If I can get out and function like (dogs with all four
paws), then you can be a functional member of society.'"
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