Derrick Campana is an animal orthotist who creates braces and artificial limbs to help increase animals’ mobility and improve their lives. Campana is one out of ten people in the world who make custom animal prosthetics, according to the Washington Business Journal. It’s amazing just how mobile animals with prosthetics can be, these few people are making a profound impact.
In 2004, Derrick founded the Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, and since then, he has helped over 20,000 animals. The company sends out kits to pet owners and veterinarians so they can cast molds of their pets or patients. Then, they send back the casting kits, where Derrick crafts a personalized prosthetic, or brace, out of thermoplastic material.
Since he started, his client base has grown dramatically. Now, he doesn’t only treat dogs or cats, he’s also making prosthetics for camels, horses, gazelles, sheep, birds, and elephants. “Now we’re seeing people caring about animals more, and we’re showing the world that things like dog prosthetics exist, and you can give your animals a second chance,” Campana proclaimed.
Receiving his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology/Biomechanics from Penn State University and Masters Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics from Northwestern University, Derrick has pioneered the field of Veterinary Orthotics and Prosthetics (V-OP) into what it is today. Since that first dog, Derrick has treated nearly 20,000 furry patients with mobility devices. Derrick’s Goal is to help as many animals as he can while in his lifetime and even the playing field between animals and humans as far as treatment options available.
Currently, Derrick turns to medical grade plastic, foam, and sometimes even thermoplastic material for most of his projects. There is a specific reason that he chooses plastic for his efforts:
“These plastics enable him to craft and mold prostheses that contour to the shape of an animal’s body, while being sturdy enough to provide reliable support for many years. The plastics also help make prostheses more affordable, which is important to many pet owners without insurance to cover veterinarian care.”
One thing also noted is that sadly the need for veterinary doctors to help animals who require prosthetics is high, and there are roughly 200 animals a month that need his help.
“I’m always so excited about everything I do—from helping animals and developing new products to flying around the world and seeing different countries,” he says.
Campana considers seeing new parts of the world as a huge job perk, but he says the most rewarding part of his career will always be seeing animals walk again for the first time and watching their owners break down and cry.
“There’s never a dull moment,” he says. “It’s the best career in the world.”