Saturday, September 01, 2007

amputee dolphin gets prosthesis

Did any of you catch this one?

I have too many questions to comment:

* Who is this prosthesis really for?? (The dolphin? The emo-innovative prosthetist who likes a challenging side project? Is it for people who can't stand the sight of anything defunct because it makes them uncomfortable to consider that possibility that it could one day be their own selves in this predicament? Is it for people who want to "help" amputees be restored to "wholeness" so we can acheive greatness and inspire you?---uh, I go. )

* How the hell did they get that thing to stay on??!!! In the deep end! Doing backflips!! I can't get mine to stay on standing still on dry land, for crying out loud.

* If the dolphin swims and the prosthetic rotates on her (like mine often does), will she swim in circles? LOL

* And what's so bad about swimming like an alligator anyhow? I look like I'm a beached walrus when I make the bed. Sometimes ya just gotta adapt, ya know?

* How come medical/animal advocates will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this for a dolphin, but not bother to make a wooden pirate peg for all the three legged dogs out there?

* Does the dolphin even LIKE having this thing on? And what about the other dolphins. Do other dolphins freak out around it? Do they whisper in the corner about it behind her back?

* If the dolphin had a blog, would she have people who fetishize amputees commenting on it? Or would she just get over 100 hits a day on that kind of search, like I do.

Whatever. It aint the first time people have put a prosthetic on a dolphin, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I bet all the dolphin has to say about it is:
"So long, and thanks for all the fish."


Aug. 31, 2007, 10:30PM

Injured dolphin gets special tail prosthesis, and the technology could aid human amputees

A wonder in the water

St. Petersburg Times

CLEARWATER — It's so small, so cute, like a pair of aquatic training wheels.
But the artificial appendage could help Winter, Tampa Bay's famous young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin amputee, swim and jump like her neighbors at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium who, unlike her, actually have tail fins.
On Thursday morning, head trainer Abby Stone gingerly slid 10 pounds of prosthesis onto Winter's stump.
First, some lotion.
Second, Stone rolled on a $1,000 soft gel sleeve as gently as a woman rolls silk hose onto her legs.
Finally, a more rigid shell with a small tail attached.
The 1 1/2 -year-old dolphin turned her head and looked back at the trainer with her left eye to see what she was doing. She's been testing the device for short periods during the past two weeks.
But Thursday marked the first time Winter wore her new tail in front of the public. As TV cameras rolled, the public got a glimpse of the first dolphin in the world with such an extensive injury — she lost her tail and three vertebrae in an accident — to swim with prosthetic flukes.
The plucky dolphin is the golden retriever of the Aquarium, happy for anything involving attention, toys, snacks or just plain fun.
Winter was just an infant when she was found more than two years ago off Cape Canaveral, deserted by her mother and tangled in a rope attached to a crab trap. Veterinarians did not believe she would survive.
The ordeal damaged not only her flukes but also part of her peduncle, or tail shaft. Without flukes, she lacks her main propulsion. She compensates by swimming side to side like an alligator.
Designed by Kevin Carroll, vice president of prosthetics for Hanger Orthopedic Group Inc. of Bethesda, Md., the prosthesis stays on by suction technology using an airtight seal.
Carroll's company is donating the staff time, materials, labor, imagination and creativity to create the device, which aquarium administrators estimate could cost more than $100,000.
Aquarium CEO David Yates said one of the best things about Winter's story is that the technology invented to help her can also help human amputees, especially those returning from the war in Iraq.
This is just the latest prototype. It will evolve as Winter, who now weighs 180 pounds, grows and develops her swimming skills. Adult dolphins can weigh 500 pounds.
In test trials during the past two weeks, Winter has worn the device for five to 20 minutes.
She is so curious about the strange thing attached to the end of her body she has been doing underwater somersaults to try and look at it, trainers said.
Director of Animal Care Diane Young was happy with Winter's performance on Thursday. But like most youngsters, she did lose her concentration.
"She (went off) and played with the herring," she said. "It's like, 'I have a big candy bar in my mouth and I'm not interested (in training) right now, but I'll come back when I'm ready.' "

(another angle on the story found here)


M-H said...

Great questions. I'd like the answers too.

Mouse said...

As soon as I saw the dolphin I thought of the "thanks for all the fish" song as well. If they start making prosthesis for other animals.. I'd sign up to have a cat with a peg leg and eye patch like the one from the animated "The Last Unicorn" movie.
Let us know if you decide to get a dolphin tail, ok?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the money be better spent on better legs (or any legs at all, for that matter) for (for example) victims of land-mines?
Why does this poor dolphin gave to be subjected to "training" when it seems to be managing perfectly well alligator-style?

Carrie said...

Wow. That's really crazy. I can't imagine what the dolphin thinks. I did see a documentary on tv where dolphins do tease each other and act like humans do in packs - i.e. not so nicely. I'm fairly speechless on this one.

Gray said...

How about better and kinder policies for human amputees from Medicaid and health insurance? Large charismatic animals may sell more newsprint than public policy, but it would be nice to see a story get the priorities straight for once.

To my mind this connects with the land use theme of the last post: I am reminded of Arthur Dent lying down in front of his house to save it from the bulldozer.

But the thought that rose above all others in my mind was that I had forgotten to thank you for the resumption of your blog. I had missed it!

So thanks.


Sally said...

I get hits from the creepy amputee fetishists too. And the definition of them as people who have a sexual attraction to "deformed or monstrous person"? Charming. As for the dolphin, I'm sure he'd manage just fine - if not better - without his prosthetic, and other dolphins wouldn't think he was deformed or monstrous either!

Anonymous said...

I saw a Discovery show on this dolphin a few weeks BEFORE Mr. Emo-innovator showed up to "help". They reported that a tire company had already made and the dolphin was successfully using the device BEFORE "help" arrived. Could it be he was just searching publicity?!?!