This dog can walk again – and plastic made it possible

Technology |  2 min. read

This is a sad story, with a happy ending.

You might think there would be a cute story to go with a dog nicknamed the “railroad puppy.”   But there wasn’t anything cute about how Hudson got his nickname.  He was found as a puppy (a pit bull mix), with one paw nailed to a railroad track.

All four of his legs were injured, and the one paw had to be amputated.  And then.

And then Hudson found Derrick Campana.  Campana makes prosthetics for animals – like a plastic paw for Hudson.

But like everything else in Hudson’s life to that point, it didn’t come easy.  It took trial and error, and trial and error, again and again.  Mixing and molding and shaping.  A hard plastic outside, a soft plastic foam inside, a durable plastic tread on the bottom.

And what makes that possible (besides a maker with a lot of patience), is using materials that are easily shaped, and reshaped, and (relatively) inexpensive. Which is in this case meant medical-grade plastics made from petrochemicals like propylene and ethylene. These wonder petrochemicals help create custom-fit prosthetics that can be made on a 3D printer, or heated and shaped to fit just so.

Plastic makes it all possible because prosthetics made from medical-quality plastics, are comfortable, lightweight and durable.  A plastic prosthetic, whether it’s formed by heating and shaping, or by 3D printing – can be fit it precisely to a patient (Loxodonta africana or Canis lupus familiaris, or Homo Sapiens).  These plastic prosthetics are also much more affordable – which makes them available to more people and animals in need.

Until finally…

(Photo from Plastics Make it Possible)

And Hudson has been off and running ever since.

(He’s giving back too.  Hudson works as a therapy dog now, and being around Hudson makes just about everybody feel good.)

Did you know?

Petrochemicals like propylene and ethylene makes these plastics possible. You can learn more about the many ways petrochemicals truly are the building blocks of modern life, here.

Animal prosthetics might sound exotic, but actually, Hudson has plenty of company:

  • Meet Angel Marie, the mini-horse. Her leg was amputated when she was only two days old – but she now gets around on her prosthetic front leg (and a helping ‘hand” from a plastic brace on her other foreleg).
(Photo from Animal Ortho Care)
  • Meet Kenna, the Golden Retriever puppy who was born with one front leg much shorter than the other. She’s up and running too, with her plastic paw.
(Photo from Animal Ortho Care)
  • And meet Jabu, the African elephant who needed an orthotic brace (a really big brace) after he stepped in a hole and injured his leg.
(Photo from Animal Ortho Care)

Whether the patient is Loxodonta africana or Canis lupus familiaris, (or even Homo Sapiens), these plastic prosthetics, made from petrochemicals, make it possible to keep on running and jumping and, whatever it is elephants do when they are happy.