Health Watch: ‘Dolphin Tale’ Technology For Humans
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The new movie “Dolphin Tale” features the amazing technology of prosthetics, which comes from making artificial limbs for people. The people who invented the dolphin’s fake tail are now using the technology on humans – truly an amazing tale!
The real dolphin, named Winter, who stars as herself in the movie, is outfitted with a prosthetic tail. She lost hers in a crab trap and without it, her life was in jeopardy. Kevin Carol, who works for Hanger Prosthetics and Orthopedics came up with the idea of a prosthetic tail.
“Many laughed at me, they said it’s not going to work. There’s no way a tail is going to stay on a dolphin.”
In the film, Morgan Freeman, plays the role of Kevin. In real-life Kevin and his partner Dan Strzempka, who lost his leg in a lawn mower accident when he was 4 years old, have become world renowned for making prosthetic limbs for humans. They said the biggest challenge in making a prosthetic dolphin tail was how to hold it in place. Dolphin skin is very delicate. So they came up with a sticky gel-like material, that’s cushiony – like a marshmallow. Dan says, “it was so beneficial, it solved problems we had with humans.”
They called their sticky substance WintersGel and it’s now being used for human prosthetics.
“After we fitted it to Winter, I started wearing it myself. It’s unbelievable and improved my life. The last thing on our mind was something to help humans. It’s one of the many things that came out of this.” Dan said
Winter’s tail is also outfitted with a variety of materials and hinges that allow her to live an almost normal life, except now she’s a movie star.
“I do call Winter our little dolphin diva, let’s put it this way, she knows when the cameras are on, she’s a very smart animal,” said David Yates, CEO of Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Kevin adds “It’s just incredible to watch her in the water and see her happy smiling little face.”
Winter lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is becoming a popular tourist destination. And Winter has become an inspiration, especially to people with disabilities. Dan says one little boy didn’t want to wear his prosthetic leg until he saw winter, now his life is turned around.
See Winter Live – http://www.seewinter.com/winter/media/webcam-3
Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3