Mar 6, 2016 | By Benedict
A two-legged chihuahua named Leo has been given a big mobility boost in the form of a 3D printed prosthesis. Staff at California State University Channel Islands 3D printed the tailor-made wheelchair device, which the enthusiastic dog soon got to grips with.
Image credit: JOSEPH A. GARCIA/THE STAR
When Camarillo resident Yvette Bocz first set eyes on Leo the chihuahua at the Riverside County Animal Shelter, she knew she had made a friend for life. Born with just two legs, Leo was abandoned as a pup, but learned to hop around like a bunny on his hind legs. “We immediately clicked,” Bocz told CBS, “and he’s basically been with me ever since.”
For many years, the adorable two-legged pooch was able to move around relatively freely, hopping from place to place with boundless enthusiasm. Although Leo retains that same vim and vigor, his increasing years are beginning to take their toll on his overworked shoulders. So, seeking help for her little friend, Bocz got in contact with Phil Hampton, a professor at Cal State Channel Islands whom she had met through an alumni organization.
When Leo’s owner made the first call in fall last year, Hampton was too busy organizing his Science Carnival to respond. However, the pair ran into one another at Oxnard's Gull Wings Museum in January. Luckily, Bocz was perfectly equipped to convince Hampton to get on board: She had Leo right there in the car. “It was love at first sight,” Hampton admitted. “He’s such a cuddly little guy. I thought: ‘Yeah, I’ll help you with this. Let’s see what we can put together.’”
With the help of Lorna Profant, a biology lecturer with expertise in anatomy and physiology, Hampton fired up the university’s $22,000 Stratasys 3D printer and created a preliminary 3D printed prosthesis for Leo. The 3D printed wheelchair device consisted of a felt-lined cradle to support the chihuahua’s body, as well as three legs and three (non-printed) model aircraft wheels attached to the foot of each leg. A pet store harness kept the device tightly secured to Leo’s body.
The two scientists came to Bocz and Leo’s house on Valentine’s Day, but were frustrated as the 9-pound two-legged canine struggled with the weight of his new prosthesis. But, determined to overcome the problem, the Cal State Channel Islands academics got straight back into the lab to work on a second model.
When Hampton returned to the house last Friday, Leo took to his new 3D printed prosthetic with ease. With his shoulders fully supported by the 3D printed frame, Leo was able to walk with his back legs—without overexerting himself. Bocz and Hampton both hope that the 3D printed device will help give Leo the freedom to run around and play with added freedom, enabling him to integrate with other dogs in the Camarillo area.
Image credit: JOSEPH A. GARCIA/THE STAR
When Bocz witnessed Leo’s delight at using his new 3D printed wheelchair, she couldn’t help but shed a tear. “It’s like watching your child walk for the first time,” she explained. “Just watching him actually use his back legs like regular walking motion and wagging his tail. I see the potential that lies ahead for him. I’m very, very happy.”
Hampton and Profant were satisfied with their 3D design, and have therefore decided to publish the 3D printable files for the prosthetic online. When they do so, anybody with a 3D printer will be able to print their own dog wheelchair and get their own disabled pooch back on its feet.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Paul wrote at 3/7/2016 7:44:03 AM:
'm just womnderiung that there are still video's where someone need Adobes Flash plugin ?? Thats a no go for me !