Humans have been breaking a leg for some time — both figuratively on the stage and in real life. But what about our pets when they incur injuries related to their bones, joints or feathers? What are their options? Veterinary orthopedics is relatively a new field of medicine, but one that is emerging.
Orthopedics is medical treatment focused on the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. But up till now, it’s not been a field of specialization for veterinarians.
That is changing with practices such as the ‘limb factory.’
Derrick Campana specializes in prosthetics for animals who require animal orthocare. His firm euphemistically referred to as the “limb factory” actually customizes artificial limbs from scratch for all kinds of furry and feathered animals.
While Campana’s education was human orthopedics, when he was approached by a veterinarian who needed a prosthesis for her dog, he added animal care to his resume.
Animal orthopedics is now his passion and the “limb factory” was the result. Although he treats animals at his office (mainly dogs), he also provides a mail service. This provides customers with the opportunity to obtain casts for their pets with broken bones. The process [similar to human treatment] goes from the cast-stage to custom-made prosthesis. To date, Campana says he has helped more than 20,000 animals.
Derrick Campana’s official title is animal orthotist, but it might as well be magician. For instance, when a dog gets his leg amputated, in most instances the joints will degenerate quickly incapacitating the animal. But when Campanan customizes a prosthetic, he distributes the weight back onto the amputated side and essentially allots the dog several more years of a quality life.
“I’ve been doing this for about 15 years and there is only six to 10 of us in the world that make prosthetics for animals,” he stated. “And I think it’s just raising awareness. I don’t think people realize that we can make these devices and they’re relatively cheap. We want to help animals and give the same types of treatments that people have to animals,” asserted Campana.
To show his prowess in this field, Campana was asked to appear on the first episode of “Dodo Heroes,” a new series on Animal Planet. On his episode, Campana makes a prosthetic cast for a five-ton elephant in Botswana named Jabu.
“He stepped in a termite mound, like a hole in the ground, and he twisted his wrist really bad,” he explained. “Might not sound like a huge injury but for a big elephant like Jabu, it’s a life-threatening injury. So, I built a brace for his wrist and that allows him to get along and be protected.”
Campana considers the most rewarding part of his service is awarding animals with a new lease on life, and then experiencing the gratitude he sees in the eyes of both the animals he treats and their pet owners.
Primary Source: PetMD