3D Printing Helps Lucky Dog Walk on All Four Legs

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The Irish Retriever Rescue (IRR) is a collaboration between dog lovers in the UK and Ireland who are committed to rescuing abandoned, unwanted or abused golden retrievers. More than 100 dogs are rehomed by this charity every year, and one special dog currently living in a foster home got some extra attention from IRR due to a deformity in his right front leg. Duke, who had been abandoned, was taken in by the IRR, where it was discovered that his leg was underdeveloped with an enlarged paw, making it impossible for him to walk on it.

The IRR wanted to help Duke walk on all four legs, so they turned to CBM, a product development and manufacturing company in Wales. CBM offers 3D printing and scanning services in addition to general prototyping, production and product development, and one of their specialty areas is bespoke medical devices. Several multidisciplinary teams from the company worked together with a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and the Duke’s foster owner, Phil Brown, to design a special prosthetic for the retriever’s leg.

CT scans were taken of Duke’s leg, and the data was used to create a 3D model, spreading the loads across the entire prosthesis for a perfect, comfortable fit despite the complexity of the dog’s deformity. CBM Manufacture then 3D printed several prototypes so that Duke could test them out and the design could be refined. After initial testing, the CAD model was updated and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was undertaken to make sure that the prosthesis could hold up under the expected loads.

The final prosthesis was 3D printed from tough Nylon 12 material using selective laser sintering (SLS). Foam cushioning on the inside of the device reduced the risk of pressure sores, and a vacuum cast elastomeric foot completed the model, adding improved impact resistance and tactile grip for a variety of ground surfaces so that Duke could walk easily no matter where he happened to be.

According to Brown, Duke is doing very well with the prosthesis. Walking on all fours comes naturally to him, despite the fact that he had so far spent his life on only three legs.

“Duke is resting and walking on his new prosthesis which is incredible given that he has never used that leg before. The team at CBM have been proactive in meeting Duke’s needs and I can’t thank them enough,” Brown said.

Duke isn’t the first dog to receive a 3D printed prosthetic or assistive device; we’ve seen plenty of other animals who have benefited from the technology and can now live more normal lives because of caring people willing to use their skills and knowledge to help them. Duke seems pleased to now be walking as a four-legged dog, and he’s getting taken for plenty of walks by his foster owner. Duke’s story may have taken a sad turn when he was abandoned, but thanks to the Irish Retriever Rescue, CBM, and his caring foster owner, it now has a happy ending. Discuss in the Golden Retriever forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: CBM]

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