Rescued Calf Gets New High-tech Prosthetics

Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:41 AM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Hot and tired from a three-hour drive inside a trailer behind a pickup truck, the 600-pound English Charolais calf was content to lay on the grass behind a south Houston building while a team of technicians worked on its hind legs.

When the calf known as Hero heard its name called, the 15-month-old gingerly got up, unsteadily rocked a bit, then waddled away, tail wagging, eyes wide and tongue licking. It headed across a patch of concrete toward an appetizing snack of green shrubbery a few yards away.

Hero became what may be the nation's only double-amputee calf with prosthetics on Wednesday when fitted for a new pair of high-tech devices attached to its back legs.

"I'm so proud," Hero's caretaker, Kitty Martin, exclaimed. "Look at you!"

It's the latest step in a year-long effort that has taken Martin and the animal from Virginia, where she rescued it last year from an Augusta County farm where it succumbed to frostbite that claimed its hooves, to Texas. Animal surgeons at Texas A&M University treated Hero for several months and affixed the initial prosthetics that the calf now had outgrown.

"This is our first cow," Erin O'Brien, an orthotist and prosthetist for Hanger Inc., an Austin-based national firm that makes prosthetic limbs. She was among a team of about eight people working on the project for about two weeks.

"We did a lot of study of photos and video of cows just regular walking to see what it looks like and see if we can mimic that biomechanically," O'Brien said. "It's unusual, yes, but an opportunity."

Surgeons at Texas A&M accepted Martin's initial pleas for help, removing about two inches of bone to enable them to create a pad of tissue that would allow for prosthetics.

"Until I worked on him, I hadn't ever done it before. And I'd not heard of (prosthetics) before in a bovine," said Ashlee Watts, an equine orthopedic surgeon at the school.

Martin figures she has spent nearly $40,000 to save the calf.

"I don't know how to explain it," she said. "I'm an animal rescuer. And he had everything against him."

Hero's hooves are custom made of urethane and titanium, the connecting components are titanium and carbon fiber and the sockets that attach to his legs are carbon fiber and acrylic resin. Martin and O'Brien declined to discuss the cost, but estimated that similar devices for humans go for between $4,000 and $8,000 apiece.

Hero's sockets are painted with black and white cow spots. "Holstein legs," O'Brien laughed.

"We like to customize legs to the person's personality," she said.

Martin, 53, a former veterinary technician and retired truck driver originally from Dalhart, in the Texas Panhandle, is moving with her husband from Greenville, Virginia, to Cameron in Central Texas. She's hoping Hero, who could grow to 1,500 pounds, can be a therapy animal for wounded veterans and special needs children.

"It makes my day," Martin said. "He's got a very bright future right now."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Limestone 'Venus' 23,000 Years Old Dug up in France

Thursday, 27 Nov 2014 15:59 PM

A limestone statuette of a shapely woman some 23,000 years old has been discovered in northern France in what archaeolog . . .

Hackers Force Message on Websites via US Firm

Thursday, 27 Nov 2014 15:42 PM

A U.S. firm that helps connect more than 700 companies with customers through social media says a Syrian group hacked th . . .

Twitter to Track Which Apps Its Users Have

Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 22:22 PM

If you use Twitter on your cellphone, the social media site will soon begin tracking which apps you use unless you activ . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved