Dog Prosthetics:

An experiment to build empathy and design for impact

The Challenge: Building a prosthetic leg for dogs

A prosthetic leg is critical for a dog as it replaces the missing limb and allows the dog to move and stand normally. As every dog’s amputation is unique, makers need to custom-make the artificial limb to ensure it fits the dog perfectly.

The Design Thinking Journey

A group of enthusiastic students aged 15 to 16 attempted to build a prosthesis for the three-legged dog under the guidance of Cesar Harada, Founder of MakerBay. The students conducted a design thinking process that started with a role-play to understand the needs of a dog and then designed an apparatus somewhat akin to a pet mobility cart. 

The phototype comprised of a PVC tube frame, stretchy straps, 3D printed bushings and a pair of wheels from a repurposed trolley to help the dog roll around with ease. After assembling the contraption and testing it on a model, the young inventors went to try out their creation on the handicapped hound.

Unfortunately, it was found that some of the measurements were slightly off, and the dog not being able to support itself. It might also be scary for him to use the frame, as the product was too unwieldy compared to a prosthetic leg. While some of the students seemed a little disheartened that the dog didn’t immediately take off running, it was a valuable experience for them to understand that the process of prototyping is long and hard but it is how innovation happens.

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zh_HKChinese

Ms. Angie Zhou

Education Specialist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Angie Zhou is an Education Specialist at MIT App Inventor. She was the founder and CEO of Dreams Come True in Shenzhen, where she developed online coding courses for kids. She also has previous curriculum development, teaching and staff training experience at First Code Academy in Hong Kong.