You've heard of a whale of a tale, but this one is more a dolphin story. The movie, "Dolphin Tale," tells the story of Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail when it got tangled in a crab trap. As our Katie Gibas reports, the man who made the prosthetic tail that immortalized Winter's story was in Central New York Thursday, meeting with human amputees.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- You may have heard Kevin Carroll's story if you saw the movie "Dolphin Tale." Chances are you might not recognize the real Kevin Carroll because he doesn't look or sound like Morgan Freeman, who played him in the movie. But the story the movie tells is very real.
Kevin Carroll has been working with amputees for 35 years. And he's first person to make a prosthetic for a dolphin.
"With the dolphin, we had to watch the skin. We actually used tomography to try to evaluate the pressures and the heat within the sockets," said Kevin Carroll, a Board Certified Prosthetist and the Hanger Clinics Chief of Prosthetics. "Working with Winter the dolphin has just been an incredible experience, watching her swim through the water with a tail, it's just fabulous. The prosthetic tail just naturally going through the water, it's just a beautiful sight."
Carroll says it took about a year to make the prosthetic and a new technology called WintersGel to attach it to the dolphin. WintersGel is now used for human amputees worldwide.
Carroll was in Upstate New York all week meeting with human amputees at Hanger Clinics, where he's the Chief of Prosthetics.
"I believe it means quite a lot to them as far as emotional support and knowing that there's somebody out there who can take a look at what they have and make sure it's correct," said Paul Selph, the Regional Coordinator for Amputee Empowerment Partners.
Selph is also a below the knee amputee. He lost his leg in a farming accident.
Carroll says because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the injuries soldiers are coming home with, some of the products that were just conceptual before have now become reality.
"I believe there's going to be a lot more computer controlled prosthetics and eventually possibly into osteo integration, where they actually put a pin in a bone and attach a prosthesis to that. It would make their prosthesis lighter and more attached to them which would give them more mobility," said Selph.
And in his spare time, Carroll still volunteers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where he works with Winter.
Winter is eight years old now and won't be full grown until she's 12. So that keeps Carroll busy making new prosthetics to fit the growing dolphin.