Monday, February 1, 2016

Bionic cats and rats

You should know by now that I love animals.

That's why I'm glad that advancements we make in medicine can be shared with them as well. As the dad of two dogs, I've never been more glad of that than I am tonight. You see, one of my dogs ate a copious amount of chocolate. Thank all that is that he has been checked out by the vet is doing fine, several vomits later. This isn't his first rodeo, of course. Over the span of his ten years, he has blown out the ACL of both of his rear knees. Fortunately, surgical vets were there for us, repairing those knees with plates and screws.

If indeed he can feel when the weather is about to change, he has never told us.

But what can be done for more severe and not to mention tragic situations? Well, I've been reading about a few innovative techniques. One involves a cat named Vincent. He's a cat who was born three years ago without rear tibias. Then 3D modeling and printing stepped up to help. Vincent got two new titanium legs inserted directly into his rear leg bones. The bones can then grow around the metal and the metal legs modified as he grows older.

Does that mean Vincent is "postfeline"? Are my dogs "postcanine?"

This bit from George Dvorsky describes how soft neural implants have been able to restore the ability to walk in paralyzed rats. The rubbery implant goes straight onto their little spinal cords and the electrical components stimulate the cord's damaged areas. "A fluidic microchannel allows for the delivery of pharmacological substances, namely neurotransmitters that "reanimate" the nerve cells beneath the injured tissue. Fascinatingly, the system can monitor electrical impulses from the brain, allowing the scientists to see the rats' motor intentions before it's translated into movement."

Of course clinical trials in humans are an endgame for many of these aforementioned techniques. I'm all for that. Still, unless your heart is entirely ice-encrusted, I see no reason for the end to obviate our ability to help our beloved pets in the nonce or later.

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