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High Tech Prosthetic Legs Help Vincent the Cat Jump Again [VIDEO]

Dec 02, 2015 04:55 PM EST
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Human prosthetics are fairly common, but thanks to technology like 3D printing, they are also becoming increasingly common for animals – from dolphis to dogs and cats. One very lucky animal, a cat named Vincent, was fitted with two prosthetic hind legs. Although his journey to recovery has been somewhat of an uphill battle, he is making monumental strides and may soon be able to jump again.

Helping the three-year-old domestic short-hair cat lead a normal life has been an ongoing initiative led by researchers from Iowa State University (ISU). Vincent was originally rescued from the Story County Animal Shelter in Nevada, where his owner Cindy Jones works. He was brought to the shelter as a kitten with deformed legs, but researchers are unsure how they got that way to begin with.

Since physical therapy did not work, Dr. Mary Sarah Bergh, of ISU's Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, turned to prosthetics. She worked with BioMedtrix, a veterinary orthopedics company that donated time and materials to the project, to design implants that could be inserted into Vincent's femur bones and pass through his skin, according to a news release.

This rare procedure will allow for Vincent's bone grow onto the titanium shafts to support his weight, Bergh explained. But the unique prosthetics come with their own set of risks: the titanium shafts are exposed and therefore are prone to infection. That's why Jones takes special care and applies an antibiotic spray to his hind legs twice a day.

Since the first stage of the procedure in February 2014, Vincent has shown undeniable progress. Subsequent surgeries have gradually lengthened his prosthetics--and despite having gone through more than most cats can imagine, Vincent was recently seen walking across the floor in one of the university's exam rooms. (Scroll to read more...)

"I anticipate that he'll be jumping and doing really normal cat things very soon," Dr. Bergh, the veterinary orthopedic surgeon who attached Vincent's prosthetic legs and has overseen his rehabilitation, said in the university's release.

Like most curious felines, Vincent gazed up towards the ceiling for a brief moment and tensed his body as if he wanted so badly to see the room from an aerial view. However, the titanium-alloy prosthetic legs kept him planted on the ground, for now.

Vincent's success may ultimately help researchers improve implants for use in other animals in the future.

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