Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Three-legged dogs aid robot research

I have written before about how animals fitted for the latest prosthetics are helping to inform science on human prosthetics.  Generally I find the resilience of three legged, two legged, or otherwise special needs dogs to be inspiring.  But three legged dogs helping robot research?! Thats a new one!  But it is true--A team of researchers led by Martin Groß at the University of Jena in Germany are working to understand the mobility adaptations that three-legged dogs make in order to design robots that can overcome an "injury." Dogs can help because they can demonstrate how to compensate differently based on the loss of a front or rear limb.

According to Science Daily's great synopsis of the research, "Adjusting to missing a fore-limb is more difficult for the dog to deal with than for a hind-limb, according to the researchers. If a fore-limb is missing, the remaining limbs must undergo careful adaptation to co-ordinate with each other, a process known as 'gait compensation.' With a hind-leg amputation, the scientists found that the fore-limbs continue to act as they would normally in a four-legged dog, showing little or no compensation strategy. The scientists think the reason for the difference is due to the higher loading of the fore-limbs in comparison to the hind-limbs, because of the distribution of body weight." Very interesting stuff!

Wags to my very special three-legged buddy Spencer, who first sent me a tip on this cool new research.  He missing a fore leg, and is pictured here demonstrating how missing a leg does not mean he ever has to miss out on the fun--especially at the beach!


  1. Everything happens for a reason. While it would be easy to feel sorry for a dog with a missing leg, clearly they're an inspiration to "regular" dog people and researchers!

  2. inspiring report, just like most people - dogs don't want you to feel sorry for them!!

  3. Very cool! When Ginko was having his knee surgeries all these years ago, we met a guy whose pointer needed an amputation as part of cancer treatment. Suddenly, our boy's boo-boo knees didn't seem so bad.