When a young dolphin lost its tail in a fishing accident, an aquarium and prosthetics company teamed up to build her a new one. Jorge Ribas meets Winter the dolphin, who stars in the new movie about her rescue.
Winter’s story of survival and the amazing work that has been done by Dan Strzempka and Kevin Carroll from Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics has not only inspired millions around the world, but it has also improved the health and lifestyle of those who wear them.
On Wednesday, Carroll, vice president of prosthetics for Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, was at the company’s Augusta location to meet amputees and talk about the latest in prosthetics technologies.
“Life is not over when they lose their leg,” Carroll said. “It’s just the beginning and they’re ready to take on the world.”
“There are great things happening,” he said.
That progress includes a new gel sleeve Carroll created while developing a prosthetic for Winter, a bottlenose dolphin that got caught in a crab trap line off Cape Canaveral, Fla., in 2005 .
To learn more about Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, visit http://www.hanger.com.
Have you been inspired or directly affected by Winter’s story? Share your story with us below.
Winter can jump and splash about just like any other dolphin, thanks to our continued relationship with Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. Winter’s prosthetic tail is becoming more and more comfortable and streamlined with every design. We strive to continue making improvements as this is a one-of-a-kind tail and the only one in the world!
The many steps to putting on Winter’s tail start with a “sock.” This is what we call the famous “Winter’s Gel.” The sock is a very soft rubbery material that has helped many veterans and amputees reduce the pain of their prostheses. The sock reduces skin friction and helps the tail stay on. Next the “cup” is placed just at the base of Winter’s peduncle, above the fluke. The cup is molded to fit the peduncle exactly. The main suspension strap is then secured. Next the sleeve is pulled over the entire tail to secure everything. And finally a newer feature to Winter’s tail, the rubber band, is placed right at the end of the tail, next to her body.
What are the changes compared to her last tail?
The cup that fits on the end of her tail has been modified to be deeper on the dorsal-ventral side and is thinner in general. The flukes are thicker at the leading edges and thinner at the trailing edges and the main suspension strap is lined with non-slip foam and is held together with velcro. The main lateral struts have embedded polypropylene rods. The tail also has stabilizing cross-member straps connecting to the cup which result in a double-tripod design.
What are the future tail modifications?
We are going to modify this prototype by removing the cross-member straps. The new tail will have the main lateral struts hinged closer to the main suspension strap, so the stabilizing cross-member straps will not be needed.