First bone-grafted prosthetic hands actually bionic cat paws

Oscar the cat is a very lucky guy. He's the first recipient of a new, innovative kind of grafted prosthetic that allows him to walk naturally.

Oscar, a British cat, lost both his hind feet in a farming accident involving a combine harvester (try not to imagine that for too long). In most situations like this, Oscar would have to use one of those wheeling carts--but, reports the BBC, Oscar instead was the beneficiary of a new technology that might have great use for humans as well.

The implants are called ITAPs, short for intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics. Says the veterinary surgeon who recommended the procedure:

"The real revolution with Oscar is [that] we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone.

We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an 'exoprosthesis' that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait."

The procedure, says PopSci, is actually inspired by real-life biology, specifically the way a deer's antlers attach to bone, beneath the skin. And its potential for humans (for whom the procedure was originally devised) is great.

The most common means of attaching limb-replacing prostheses now is what's somewhat bluntly called a "stump socket." But the pressure of rubbing a limb with a prosthetic extension can cause sores and blisters, a problem solved by this new procedure. Check out a video of Oscar the cat below--his movements are surprisingly natural.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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