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Medical Pioneer Cassidy Receives Final Prosthetic Limb

Cassidy is a medical pioneer standing -- and walking -- on all four legs thanks to an osseointegration orthopedic surgery procedure that may one day benefit humans who lose limbs through combat, accidents, or disease.

Within minutes of being fitted with his customed designed prosthetic limb and foot, the once three-legged German shepherd mix was prowling the halls of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The walk was the conclusion of an eight-month process that began with a novel surgery last summer.

Cassidy's care team numbered in the dozens and was headed by Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, CVM associate professor of orthopedics, and Dr. Ola Harrysson, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering in the NC State University College of Engineering.

In a four-hour operation in July of 2008, Dr. Marcellin-Little surgically inserted a titanium implant developed by Dr. Harrysson’s engineering team into what was left of Cassidy’s right hind leg bone. Owners Steve and Susan Posovsky brought Cassidy back to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in October to be fitted with a temporary limb that screwed into the visible tip of the implant.

Drs. Marcellin-Little and Harrysson are pioneers in the area of osseointegration, a process that fuses a prosthetic limb with an animal's bone. The result is a custom-designed prosthesis that behaves more like a natural limb—and a technique with implications for the future of human prosthetics.

Cassidy's historical stroll was recorded in still images and a feature in the Raleigh News & Observer, by NBC-17, News Channel 14, the New York Post, and the Palm Beach Post. The CBS Early Show also did a profile on Cassidy's new found mobility.

Posted April 1, 2009, updated Nov. 30, 2009