Prosthetic limbs were made and used for humans so far but now they are being accessed by animals as well. The first elephant hospital in the world has recently built a prosthesis factory for elephants. In addition, they have even fitted a prosthetic leg to an elephant that was injured in a landmine in northern Thailand that has proved to be a great success and inspiration.
The Asian Elephant Foundation Friends (FAE) had been founded in 1993 and soon became the very first elephant hospital in the world. Since its establishment, the hospital has successfully treated more than 4,500 elephants suffering from different ailments including general malaise, dehydration, cancer, cataracts, gunshot wounds, and other human-inflicted injuries.
The most serious and challenging cases are the ones injured in landmines bordering Thailand. There are a large number of landmines hidden in the jungles and hill regions of Thailand, estimated to almost 2,400 mines per km in certain areas. Although there are countless human casualties due to the landmines, animals also get injured and die. Recently, an elephant named Mosha, a 2-year old was gravely injured and treated with a prosthetic leg at the FAE.
Landmine Affected Mosha Gets Prosthetic Leg
Mosha was first brought to the FAE when she merely 7 months of age. She was brought to the hospital after she had lost one of her front legs in a landmine situated on the borders of Thailand and Myanmar.
Although she was visibly in pain, she was striving to compensate for her lost limb with her trunk raised high. This is mainly because of the reason that she was trying to gain support from the trunk since it was becoming extremely difficult for her to balance her weight as she was growing into an adult.
Doctor T. Jivacate was an orthopedic surgeon who had already provided over 25,000 prosthetic legs and hands to the people injured in Thailand mines. 2 years after Mosha was brought and treated at FAE, the case was taken over by Jivacate and his team who worked at various vets.
Together they designed a prosthetic leg for this growing elephant with the help of different complex biomechanics. The finished prosthetic leg weighed almost 15 kg after it was completed. It was made from different materials such as metal, sawdust, and plastic.
Mosha Inspires Animal Activism
The FAE and vet carers of Mosha said that she was definitely wary of her prosthetic leg at first. Nonetheless, she soon became comfortable in it after the doctor fitted it and she learned how to walk in it in a few hours. After this successful trial, when it was time to take it off, she was reluctant to remove it.
Mosha has received over 10 prosthetic legs over the past few years. Each one was designed and improved after recent modifications in order to provide her with the best possible support that would cater to her growing body. Her prosthesis has undergone technological improvements and the recent one is made of thermoplastic, elastomer, and steel. It is also designed to allow smooth and fluid body movement. As a result, Mosha is seen wearing it at all times and it removed only during nighttime.
Creating prosthetic limbs is a painstaking task and it takes more time to improve and repair it. Jivacate stated that they work for almost one year in order to repair damaged prostheses. Fortunately, the AFE facility has greatly helped them with the latest technology and resources.
Apart from Mosha, another elephant named Motala was injured in a landmine. This 60-year-old elephant also received a prosthetic leg and both Mosha and Motala are residents of FAE Foundation. They even share a close bond with their carers and doctors at the facility.