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Grove family fashions prosthetic limb for alpaca

An Oklahoma City alpaca is rehabilitating at a Grand Lake alpaca ranch while a Grove family fits her for a new artificial leg.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL, For The Oklahoman Published: November 5, 2012

Dave and Beverly Helms have fitted prosthetic limbs for war veterans, diabetics, athletes and one active four-legged client.

Dave Helms has incorporated the latest in technology of carbon fiber construction, epoxy resin and titanium components to create a prosthetic to meet the daily needs of a growing 143-pound female alpaca named Cornucopia.

This will be Cornucopia's second prosthesis.

The first was made when she was a baby, but because of its deterioration, a second prosthesis is needed.

“I like a challenge,” Helms said.

The prosthesis was handmade by Grand Prosthetics and Orthotics LightWeight Artificial Limbs & Braces in Grove.

Dave and Beverly Helms and their adult son, Andy, all had a part of making the alpaca's prosthetics.

Their son, Troy, 14, photographed every step of the process.

Helms, a U.S. Air Force veteran with 40 years of prosthetic experience, also created a custom lower limb prosthesis for a crown crane at the Waco Zoo.

Injury, amputation

Cornucopia was born Nov. 13, 2006. She belongs to Michael and Sherry Alpert, of Oklahoma City, who own and operate Awesome Acres 'Pacas & Pyrs.

“From all appearances, she was normal, healthy and very active,” Beverly Helms said.

When Cornucopia was about 2 weeks old, it became evident she was not carry any weight on her left foreleg, Helms said.

Her owners assumed she stepped in a hole on their Oklahoma City ranch and broke her leg, she said.

The animal was taken to Oklahoma State University's veterinary teaching hospital to be examined.

X-rays showed the white furry alpaca had two broken bones in her foot and ankle.

Parts of Cornucopia's left leg were amputated, leaving her with a stump.

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