Miniature donkey foal fitted with prosthetic limb (copy)
Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Hanger Clinic, formerly Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, are working together on a case that could have implications in the treatment and rehabilitation of horses, donkeys and other equines with congenital deformities or injuries.
Emma, a miniature donkey foal, was just two days old when she arrived at the John Thomas Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital in April with a severe hind limb deformity, one that required amputation of the limb and the placement of a prosthesis.
Dr. Fred Caldwell, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and equine surgeon, performed the procedure, and is working with clinician Billy Fletcher from Hanger Clinic – the same company which made the prosthetic tail for Winter, the amputee dolphin and star of the film “Dolphin Tale” – to develop a prosthesis for her limb. The two worked out a plan to both allow Emma time to heal from the surgery and transition from her cast to the prosthesis.
“Billy was excited and enthusiastic to assist,” Caldwell said. “Once we proceeded with the surgery and amputated the distal limb, he provided a small footplate to incorporate into the cast to even out the length of her hind limbs so she could bear weight until we could get the surgical site healed and have her fitted with a prosthesis. It has been a group effort on behalf of many caring individuals willing to go to great lengths to save her.”