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Tailless Dolphin Goes Bionic
Sep 04

Tailless Dolphin Goes Bionic

Dolphin Prosthetic

As a prosthetic specialist, Kevin Carroll handles some of the toughest human amputation cases. One of his latest patients was a whole new challenge - she needed a new tail. His patient was Winter, a dolphin that lost her tail when she was 3 months old.

Although the scientist took on the case to apply his expertise from working with human amputees to help a dolphin, he also inadvertently found a way to help human amputees. For Winter the dolphin, he developed a gel sleeve that would allow the tail prosthesis to grip without irritating her sensitive skin, using suction to grip much like a rubber glove grips a human hand.

Applying what he learned from Winter to a human case, he was able to find a way to soothe the pain of walking with prosthetic legs for Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, who was injured during a mortar attack in Iraq in 2004 and lost both legs and a right hand. When trying to walk with prosthetic legs, he had experienced great pain from the bony-growths in the socket that felt like daggers. That pain was eased by using a gel sleeve similar to Winter's.

Brian is just one amputee of many that will be helped by Winter.

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