JOLIET, Ill. -- It’s not all that different from shop class, except the building going on in this lab at Joliet Junior College could someday help tens of thousands with disabilities. They are students of orthotics and prosthetics and are taking their learning experience out of the box with a very special subject: Wolf.
Wolf is a 3-year-old 100 pound Shepard mix JJC vet tech Professor Eileen McKee adopted as a rescue puppy. Wolf lost his front leg at the shoulder and while he gets along well now, Eileen worries that will change with age.
“When he full out runs, he’s beautiful you can’t even tell he doesn’t have that leg,” Eileen says. “But walking is a bit of a chore because he is a big dog. I think 60% of the weight is on that front leg. So at the end of the day he’s shaking.”
It was a perfect match. Wolf needs a leg, students need a real life subject. Two years ago it started with a full body scan of Wolf. Students were studying his body movement and were fashioning a brace. Then they got ideas for a prosthesis.
Today for the first time, Wolf tried his very own custom leg built on a 3D printer.
It was a success and a lot learned. Tweeks are being planned and this knowledge is increasingly more important with the number of veterans suffering similar full leg amputations.