A heartwarming movie about devising a prosthetic tail suitable for a dolphin has helped launch a new material, WintersGel™, that allows human amputees to wear their prostheses longer. The movie, “Dolphin Tale,” focuses on two volunteers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater Beach, Fla., who create a prosthetic tail for an injured dolphin named Winter. Two heroes in the true-to-life story are Kevin Carroll, vice president of prosthetics, and Dan Strzempka, Sarasota practice manager, of Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics Inc., an Independence, Mo., company with 19 locations and hundreds of solutions for patients with limb loss or neuromuscular paralysis.
After creating the special silicone sleeve of WintersGel that allowed the injured dolphin to thrive (Winter continues to perform at the aquarium), Hanger applied the research and development to human prostheses. The company now offers WintersGel exclusively. It comes in three versions—a fabric-locking liner, fabric-cushioning liner and non-fabric cushioning liner in two thicknesses and a wide range of sizes. WintersGel’s softness, elasticity and gentle adhesion keeps prosthetics in place while protecting sensitive, sweating or scarred skin on the end of an amputated limb. The product has been such a success that doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are using it with injured veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.