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!
- ▼ July (8)