From Our 2010 Archives

Three-Legged Dogs Aid in Robot Design

WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- The movement of three-legged dogs is being studied to help scientists design robots that can adapt in the event of an "injury."

German researchers used high-tech infrared cameras to record the movements of dogs missing a fore limb or hind limb as they walked and ran on a treadmill. The tests revealed that the dogs used different coping methods, depending on which limb was missing.

Adjusting to a missing fore limb is more difficult for a dog than dealing with a missing hind limb, for example. Fore limb amputation requires the remaining limbs to undergo careful adaptation to coordinate with each other, a process called "gait compensation." In the case of a hind-limb amputation, the fore limbs continue to act as they normally would in a four-legged dog, so there is little or no compensation strategy.

The difference in compensation strategies may be due to the fact that a dog's fore limbs carry more body weight than the hind limbs.

The research is slated to be presented Thursday at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Prague.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Society for Experimental Biology, June 30, 2010, news release.