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Experiment with Goose prosthetics

Discussion in 'Geese' started by 1MrsMagoo, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    Okay, some of you may remember the posts I've made on other threads about Griffin, my almost 3 week old Buff Pomeranian gosling who slipped a tendon. According to the LSU vet school, it cannot be successfully be repaired, but he is otherwise healthy (although a bit stunted).

    He has been able to hop around on one foot using the other mostly useless foot/leg for balance. I have been doing daily therapy with him (leg extensions, swimming, splinting) and his leg has retained just a bit of use, but not enough. I know that as he grows he will be unable to successfully hop about primarily on one foot and it would be cruel to make him do so. Before making the decision to put him down, however, we wanted to try one last thing.

    I have been doing extensive research of prosthetic legs and feet in birds. A rescue in Florida has successfully made prosthetic legs for several Sandhill cranes using pvc pipe. I've found stories where people have made feet for pigeons, eagles, ducks, and parrots. The common denominator though is that each of these animals has lost a limb through accident or amputation: My goose still has his leg. This means that I will have to provide a platform/support of the existing leg and attach the prosthetic under the leg by the knee.

    So, this morning I made my first prototype and he has been wearing it all day. It took him several minutes to be able to successfully walk in it without face planting. After a bit of practice though, he was able to reasonably traverse the front yard and go into and get out of the pond on his own. He is also able to lay down and doesn't look uncomfortable, which I was worried about.

    This first try is very crude and utilizes waterproof medical tape to hold it on, which naturally means after swimming it falls off and must have new tape put on. Once I finalize the design, I am going to use nylon or neoprene for the body (over the foam and plastic) and velcro closures. I have two sewing machines I may as well use one of them for something more than decoration...lol. I made this first one out of two 1/2" pvc "T" fittings and a small length of pipe in between. I used a miter saw to cut the top of the "t" fittings off so that they are now a little less than half round. I clipped the sharp corners off the top T and beveled the back to accommodate his knee joint. Then lined the inside of the top modified t fitting with some foam used to wrap water pipes for cushion and comfort (it was a little thick so I cut the thickness in half).

    I already see many improvements that need to be made in the design, but expected as much. I measured his lower leg and made sure the entire apparatus is the exact same measurement. However, after watching him walk with it see that it needs to be just a tad bit shorter, so will do that on the next one I make.

    On the next one, I also need to add a support that goes up the back of his upper leg. Additionally, I need to shift the center of the leg back just slightly to improve balance and may upgrade to 3/4" pvc as well. Also, I am going to modify the bottom and cut if flatter and shorten the ends of the T. I am thinking of getting one of those large flat rubber sink plugs and cutting a flipper/foot shape from it then somehow fixing it to the bottom of his pvc foot. Either that, or I will follow suit with the legs made for the cranes and use a small rubber sink stopper in the end of the pipe.

    Here is Griffin in the yard this morning wearing his new "leg". The first picture is of those awkward first few steps (wings extended for balance) and the second after he got the hang of using it a bit. Sorry for the picture quality, it was taken with my cell phone.

    He is putting full pressure on the pvc leg, but it is a tad bit too long so he keeps it at an angle.

    I just wanted to share. If this works out, I will post photos as we go.
  2. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    Very cool. I like that you have thought outside the box and are building this yourself and testing ideas to help him.

    Could he, would he use the leg more if it had a braces it like a humane knee brace? Like the ones that have the hinged metal side supports? We have two for hubbies past knee surgeries of you want a picture of how one is set up.
  3. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow so smart and so sweet of you!
  4. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    Actually Celtic,great minds must think alike, because that was the first thing that crossed my mind. My dad had knee surgery when I was a teenager and I remember the knee brace with the metal hinges very distinctly. I have been actively seeking hinges small enough on the hardware sites. I decided to try the version above first due to availability of materials: I have all the PVC parts, glue, and cutters right out in the garage.

    I am going to leave no stone unturned in my attempts to make something suitable for him. Heck, if it works out it would end up helping a lot of people's feathered friends since I will post a step-by-step guide on building whatever I come up with here on the forum.

    Fingers crossed. I mean I never took an engineering class, only three years of architecture in college, but between my husband and I...we ought to be able to come up with something reasonable. It is just going to be a matter of trial and error. Hopefully Griffin will be patient with all the new contraptions we strap to his poor little leg. I think he is going to earn some extra treats over the next couple of weeks.
  5. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    Thanks. We had to try something. My husband has become quite attached to this little dude (me to but not as much as him). Since he is the one who euthanizes sick and injured birds he really doesn't want to have to do it unless we have absolutely no choice. He won't watch him suffer, but it would absolutely break his heart to have to do it.
  6. Going Bhonkers

    Going Bhonkers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2012
    SW Florida
    Excellent job, 1MrsMagoo!!
  7. galgo98

    galgo98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2011
    Lebanon, Pennsylvania
  8. plantcityhomestead

    plantcityhomestead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Impressive. Have the other geese tried to take it off? Mine nibble on anything new.
  9. Iain Utah

    Iain Utah Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 17, 2011
    Best of luck!!
  10. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    No, they don't seem interested in bothering it. However, most of his time is spent with two slightly younger goslings in their playpen tractor. I let him out to swim in the pond while I can sit and supervise. At that point, it is submerged and they are more interested in the parts of him above water than those below. Aside from that, I have a three month old with a wing taped due to drooping and they are far more interested in picking that off for the time being. [​IMG]

    I am making them some toys to hang from the trees in the front in hopes of deterring them and their picking (not mean just curious and ornery). They like to try and get anything I leave in the mesh drink holder on my lawn chair arm. So, I have some mesh like they make onion bags from and am making bags with small tennis balls and other round objects in them to hang about head height and lay around. Hopefully, that will occupy their time even further.

    I am on the second design of the prosthetic and still not happy. I like the closure and padding system I have come up with (sewed a cover of ace bandage and sewed velcro closures on it). Now all I have to do is stabilize its side to side movements. I need something more rigid to attach to his upper leg area. I have some ideas and am going to work of some things through the weekend while my husband and our work truck (most of the tools are in it) are home. Hopefully, we will come up with the solution over the weekend.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

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