Those of you who have visited animal shelters would have noticed that there are always some animals who are either disfigured or handicapped. One of the most common sights we get to witness is dogs with a limp or an entire limb bandaged or missing.
But instead of just feeling sad for these creatures and hoping one day someone would do something for them, a group of six class 10 students from Shiv Nadar School, Noida, actually went ahead and designed prosthetic limbs for dogs. The six-member teams call themselves Pawsitivity, and comprise Arushi Shah, Sprihha Singh, Shreeya Mittal, Navya Aggrawal, Navya Jain and Utpal Chauhan.
To understand how a bunch of 16-year olds can accomplish something so unique and groundbreaking, we spoke to them. Excerpts from the interview:
How did the Idea of Making Prosthetic Limbs for Dogs Strike You?
It all started with our Capstone Project, which is a part of the Technology curriculum at Shiv Nadar School. Students in Grade 10 follow a six-month-long program which includes forming a team, identifying a real-world problem and designing a tech-based solution.
When we formed our group, all of us had one interest in common –“Our love for dogs.” For research purposes, we visited a couple of animal shelters along with our teachers and noticed that some of the dogs were paralysed, some had met with an accident and had lost their paws or limbs. Each of them had a story to tell. At one of the animal shelters, we met Alita, an 8-month-old dog. She had met with a railway accident and her front toes were ruptured. We wanted to help the distressed dog and so the idea of making prosthetic limbs for dogs struck all of us.
Has this never been done in India before?
When we started our research, we came across a couple of people who have been working out on similar solutions. But we also realised that while prosthetics for humans were readily available, there were a handful trying to do something similar for animals. Dr Tapesh Mathur is one such person we read about, who has been working a lot in this field and hence we took him to be our inspiration.
And anywhere in the rest of the world?
Yes, we researched a lot of solutions available across the world, but we found most of the solutions to be expensive. While looking at the reference videos and reading their reviews online, we also felt that none of the solutions were necessarily comfortable for the dogs. Our focus since then has been primarily on comfort and cost-effectiveness so that many dogs can benefit from our solution.
How do you make these silicone-based prosthetic limbs?
Designing the solution was quite challenging. We had to keep many factors in mind including, size, material, mechanism, shape and cost-effectiveness. This required a lot of brainstorming, research, including an understanding of dog anatomy, visiting animal shelters and having discussions with vets.
For e.g.: We researched how a solution for ruptured paws will have to be different from ruptured limbs, and this will be different from front limbs to hind limbs in case the entire leg is lost.
We initially used casting and moulding method to get the size right. Further, we took the help of spring mechanism to support movement in case of limb loss which consumed most of our time. We then designed a 3D model using a 3D printer available at our school’s IT lab, listed down all our specifications and took some external help to help us stitch the parts together. This is how we came up with our first prototype of prosthetics.
What is the cost of making one prosthetic limb? Where did you get the money from?
We were able to make one prosthetic paw for Rs 1500 and a limb for Rs 3000- 4000. The varied price range is due to the size and type of prosthetics.
However, if we produce prosthetics in bulk or sale it through 3D printing, the cost will reduce significantly. We generated this fund through an online crowdfunding site called Milaap and also organised a bake sale in our school.
Have you tried these on any dogs till now?
Yes, we have helped two amputee dogs Ellie (chopped paws) and Delena (Front limb) with prosthetic paws and limbs. Ellie is very comfortable with her paws, and she runs comfortably on the roads now after the prosthetic limb. Delena is still learning to walk with her limb and needs a bit more practice and physiotherapy to be comfortable with the new attachments. We are trying to create awareness about prosthetic limbs for dogs on our Instagram page, called Pawsitivity.
Please Note: This article is not edited by DogExpress Team!