Bionic Dog Gets Carbon-Fiber Paw

The world's first bionic dog, a Belgian shepherd named Storm, now has a carbon-fiber prosthetic paw. The dog underwent an amputation earlier this year to remove a tumor; his new paw should have him up and around soon. Veterinarian surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick of Farnam, Surrey (U.K.) hopes that the technique will also be of possible benefit to humans:

"The technology is not just the first time that the implant type has been used outside the human finger," Fitzpatrick said. "Because it has been implanted into the radius of the forearm of the dog, it will act as a model for human amputees in the future and provides hope for people without feet or hands."

The implant, made of titanium alloy, is cemented to the main bone of Storm's foreleg (see diagram). It is hoped that the dog's skin could eventually bond with the implant. A plug-in prosthetic paw made of laminated carbon fiber is inserted into the implant.

Readers may recall that Lindsay Wagner, television's Bionic Woman (a cyborg spin-off of The Six-Million Dollar Man), discovered in a two-part episode that there was also a bionic dog. In The Bionic Dog, aired in September of 1977, Jaime discovers the existence of Maximillian, whose cybernetics were implanted six years earlier (see photos). Max is about to be put down and autopsied to discover why his bionics are beginning to break down. She decides to save him no matter what the cost.

Humans are trying this technology out, too: see Bionic Arm Uses Neuro-Engineering and Your Can-Crushing Bionic Hand Is Ready, Steve Austin.

From the Telegraph via Splutch.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.