Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed Wheelchair Helps Another Lucky Cat Walk Again

ST Medical Devices

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l_catheadlineIt’s said that cats always land on their feet. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true. I’ve seen cats topple in undignified heaps after ill-advised attempts to scale bookshelves or jump onto magazine-covered tables, which inevitably sends them skidding like children on a Slip and Slide. If you’re a watcher of cat videos – and really, who isn’t? – you know that cats are not always the graceful creatures they pretend to be. Usually, though, they compensate quickly, bouncing to their feet in the blink of an eye, with a challenging stare for anyone who even thinks about laughing at them.

Poor Mozart the cat wasn’t able to recover so quickly from his nearly 100-foot fall from his owner’s balcony. Martin Orliac was about halfway through the new Star Wars movie when he received a text message saying that his cat had fallen from the balcony and had been taken to the animal hospital. Orliac rushed over to the hospital to find Mozart with both of his hind legs broken; according to the vet, it was a miracle that he had survived.

balconycat445

Martin Orliac’s balcony

While the pretty long-haired cat would recover from his injuries, he wouldn’t be able to walk for two months. The vet suggested a small enclosure and an expensive wheelchair, but Orliac had an idea that would be kinder to both his cat and his budget.

“These wheelchairs for pets are really expensive, ad hoc-type devices that cost dramatically more than for a human,” he said. “But some people have been quite ingenious in making wheelchairs for catsA guy in Israel made different parts through 3D printing and put them readily available online. It wouldn’t cost much and wouldn’t be that difficult, but I didn’t have a 3D printer.”

Orliac’s friend Joshua Flannery is an entrepreneurship catalyst at the University of New South Wales, and when Orliac told him about his situation, he put out a call to his fellow students. It was only a few days before Christmas, and Flannery almost immediately received numerous responses from people eager to help Mozart get back on his feet for the holidays. Viriya Chittasy, a student who owns a 3D printer, printed the parts necessary to assemble a kitty wheelchair, which he then presented to Orliac.

catwheelchair

Mozart took to his wheelchair right away, walking, running and even jumping. According to Orliac, the cat has even gotten a bit bored with it. Luckily, he’ll be able to use all four of his legs again in a couple months, although as we’ve seen with many other crippled animals, the wheelchair could suit him for life if he needed it.

“It’s amazing what innovation can deliver,” Orliac said.

Flannery was thrilled with the immediate, caring response from his fellow student entrepreneurs, who were eager to use technology to help his friend.cat2

“It was important to be able to give back to our partners on a more personal level and it just shows that we have a really caring and valuable community of entrepreneurs around the university,” he said.

So while Mozart may not have been able to bounce back to his feet as quickly as he would have from a more minor fall, the fact that he has been able to move around normally is a remarkable demonstration of how easy it has become to help disabled animals through 3D printing. We’ve written many, many articles about wheelchairs and prosthetics for animals; a quick perusal through any of them shows that 3D printing technology has become a savior for more than just humans.  Discuss this incredible design in the 3D Printed Cat Wheelchair forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: StartupSmart]

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