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Dallas Zoo Camp Helps Improve Prosthetics

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Stephanie Lucero
Stephanie is an Emmy Award winning veteran reporter for CBS 11 N...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There is a fun-filled camp at the Dallas Zoo where children learn all about the animals. But, besides learning and playing, the campers are making a huge contribution to kids that they will never meet — children without limbs who are among patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.

Ryan Geddie was born without a fibula. His leg was amputated when he was a baby.

Geddie is now going through agility tests with his prosthetic right leg. The 13-year-old patient refuses to let this obstacle slow him down. Geddie plays cornerback for a football team. He runs track in the offseason. He loves rock climbing as a hobby. And he is still interested in learning how to golf.

The teen is among the patients who are counting on children at the Dallas Zoo camp. Those campers are participating in the same agility testing at the Dallas Zoo, with parental permission. The results of their tests will become the baseline that doctors and therapists at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital will use to treat children who do not have all four limbs.

“How does the treatment we provide our patients help our kids perform and function like typical kids? Because that’s what they want to be,” said Kirsten Tulchin-Francis from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. “They want to go out and play with their friends. So, using a test like this can help us track their progress. It can help us determine, maybe, one prosthetic component is better than another for that particular patient.”

The idea for the study started in the African animal exhibit at the Dallas Zoo. (Click here to read more about the study.)

Kelly Jeans works at the hospital, but is a frequent zoo visitor. She noticed that all of the elephants were wearing a radio frequency identification tag. The tag measures an elephant’s movement. The Dallas Zoo was the first to use this type of technology. “It sparked some interest,” explained Jeans, “because we monitor the way children move in the lab as well.”

Geddie hopes that the zoo testing will enable kids like him to be just as active as everyone else. “I think this will help,” he said, “because they can learn where the prosthesis needs to improve to act and behave more like a human, natural leg.”

The zoo already tested 275 children last summer. But, in order to accurately complete the study, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital needs hundreds of children to take the agility test. The hospital said that there are similar studies completed on adult men who are amputees.

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