Sarah Vorsanger

The Israeli Prosthetics Clinic That Gives People and Animals a Second Chance

March 26, 2020

Technoleg Orthopedic Institute has helped countless amputee patients regain the motion of walking for more than 40 years. Recently, they became the first and only place in Israel to make prosthetics for animals

You can find Avi Talmor and Micha Hayat, the technicians behind Technoleg located on Kibbutz Beerot Yitzhak, in their workshop taking measurements, using a process called lamination to make a prosthetic mold from carbon, making cosmetic finishes for the prosthetics, or sanding them down to the precise shape needed.

Talmor and Hayat have been making prosthetics for patients who have recently had amputations for 43 and 33 years, respectively. These patients are given prescriptions from their doctors for their prosthetic, and from there, Technoleg develops their unique, one-of-a-kind leg. Once the prosthetic is aligned for the patient, the patient received rehabilitation at the hospital.

The bottom line is, Talmor and Hayat want their patients to be comfortable. They even have a “cat-walk” in their office that allows patients to walk with their prosthetic in order to make sure they are satisfied with their new leg. “At first, the prosthetic is something strange. It can be uncomfortable, painful, and they are unsure of how to move their leg. We try to make the socket (the area of the amputated leg that fits into the prosthetic) as comfortable as possible,” says Hayat.

Avi Talmor and Micha Hayat are using a process called lamination to make a prosthetic mold from carbon. Photo by Sarah Vorsanger

A Success Story

Technoleg has many success stories, but one that particularly stood out in Hayat’s mind was a man named Zach. When Zach was eight years old, a bus ran over his foot. Zach explains that after his accident, he had a constructed foot that was very problematic. “I wasn’t able to run; I could not walk more than 100 meters without having to give my foot a break.” After 22 years, he decided to make a change. “When I was 30 years old, I asked my doctor to amputate my foot because I wanted to start living again.”

After his amputation, Zach received a prosthetic from Technoleg, and was in rehabilitation for about a month, where he learned how to walk on his new and improved leg. “Now, I can do everything I could have never done with my bad foot. Not only did I go through the hard process of rehab, but I also committed my life to sports, and these days, I am boxing, snowboarding, surfing, and playing footvolley, a Brazilian sport, and even soccer.”

After researching and realizing there was not an all amputee soccer team in Israel, he started a team of his own. “It was my dream to create this team,” he explains. “With time, I got to know more and more people with amputations. One thing led to another, and four months ago, we had our first training session. We even have sponsors.” Since then, the team has had two international matches. “Our goal is to get into the European championship next fall.”

Today, Zach, who is a lawyer by profession, also gives motivational speeches to soldiers, school children, and athletes about his personal story. He also uses his Instagram (@viking.zach) as a platform to educate and show other amputees that they can still lead active lives. “I chose to live a totally different life from my life before the amputation,” Zach says.

Talmor and Hayat want their patients to be comfortable. They even have a “cat-walk” in their office that allows patients to walk with their prosthetic in order to make sure they are satisfied with their new leg. Photo by Sarah Vorsanger

Prosthetics for the Animals

Talmor and Hayat have made prosthetics for all ages – from kids to the elderly. However, they recently decided to team up with Freedom Farm Sanctuary in order to add animals to their list of patients.

Freedom Farm Sanctuary rescues animals from the meat and dairy industries as well as experimental labs. Their goal is to make people see farm animals the way they would see a domesticated pet. They first heard of Technoleg after they had produced prosthetics for dogs.

Meital Ben Ari, co-founder of Freedom Farm Sanctuary, was looking for a clinic to come to the sanctuary in order to make an orthotic (a brace) for a sheep named Gary.

“About two years ago, we got a call from Freedom Farm Sanctuary asking us to make a prosthetic for a sheep, so we thought, why not?” says Hayat. “Of course, we had to learn the anatomy of animals in the process,” he adds. They consulted many veterinarians in order to have all their questions answered.

Nir, the cow

Today, Technoleg has made prosthetics and braces for many different animals, including sheep, donkeys, even a cow named Nir. Nir, who was only one and a half at the time when the Freedom Farm Sanctuary rescued him from the Golan Heights, was missing a leg. Meital said, “Nir was supposed to be sent to slaughter, but we approached the farmer who owned him and said we would give him a good life and produce a prosthetic leg for him, if he would be willing to give him up.”

When it came to making the prosthetic, Hayat remarks that “in the beginning, the cow did not want to cooperate, but then he saw that we were trying to help him and he relaxed.” The cow was 350 kgs (~772 lbs), so they had to make the prosthetic very strong in order to support his weight. It took two prosthetics and multiple trips from the workshop to the Golan Heights, but after four months, it finally worked.

Nir is the first cow in Israel today to use a prosthetic leg. “Everyone loved seeing Nir running around the farm! It wouldn’t have happened without Technoleg,” says Meital. The animals at Freedom Farm, like Nir that have braces or prosthetics, are dependent on them. They even have animals in wheelchairs. “Without them, it would be impossible to give them any quality of life,” says Meital.

This ZAVIT article was also published in The Jewish Journal on 03/09/2020.