How many of us have watched helplessly as a senior canine companion struggles with hip dysplasia? This degenerative joint disease is all too common, and it affects a dog's ability to stand, walk, and enjoy everyday activities without crippling pain.
Fortunately, pups with bad hips have some talented friends at Purdue University. A team of mechanical engineering students have developed a special brace, or "exoskeleton" to help alleviate the pain of hip dysplasia and improve mobility by up to 55 percent.
The traditional treatment for dogs afflicted with hip dysplasia has been surgical hip replacement and/or prescription pain-killers. Since both options pose risks (especially for older animals) and are costly for pet guardians, an alternative is greatly needed. Although the Purdue team's brace isn't yet available commercially, they are hoping it will be soon. For now, it is being tested with patients like Stella (show above) at the University's veterinary school.
Engineering student Jim Bergeron is optimistic about the brace's potential: "The dog will kind of step gingerly on it, and then, what we're hoping to see is, when we put the brace on that she'll just be walking around like a normal, happy dog," he told a local news station. "I hate looking at the dog here and seeing her in pain, you know, it breaks my heart and so it's going to be fantastic actually if it works, so we're really hoping it will."