Prosthetics pioneer: Florida man makes prosthetics for equines - KMSP-TV

Prosthetics pioneer: Florida man makes prosthetics for equines

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PHOENIX - A man who started his career making prosthetic's for people is now giving animals a second chance at an active life.

Ronnie Graves is a pioneer in the field using his unique knowledge to help equines walk trot and gallop again.

Graves has been in the prosthetics and orthotics business for 35 years.

"About 17 years ago a lady came to my facility with a horse who desperately needed a knee brace, and I had never made one before and it has just mushroomed from that point," said Graves.

For the last 17 years, Ronnie's groundbreaking work has focused on his equine clientele.

"It's a team effort the vet, the owner of the animal and myself all get involved we figure out a treatment plan for the animal then we cast and make the device," said Graves.

His work is reaching as far as Africa, even fitting a baby elephant named Moses with two back leg braces.

It's something Ronnie can relate to he's been wearing a prosthetic since 1979 when he lost his left leg in a train accident.

"I was straddled to the track, and I literally had a choice; I could lay down and die or pull my own leg off, and I pulled my own leg off below the knee." he said.

It was a day that changed his life and his life's path.

"What appeared to be the very worst and darkest days of my life, turned out to be one of the best," said Graves.

It's the reason he chose this profession, his lab in Bushnell is where he crafts all the prosthetics.

"They don't have a voice they cant tell you that with a leg I would be able to walk and enjoy life," he said.

Ronnie claims his success rate is about 80 to 85 percent.

"in some cases I just help the animal be able to get up and walk around," said Graves.

For Ronnie, his life's journey of a thousand miles defined by every single step he takes and creates.

Ronnie even outfitted his own animal with a prosthetic; he has a 3-legged donkey named Luigi. Luigi is 10 and has been using his prosthesis for 8 and a half years.
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