Dolphin's 'Tail' Inpires Metro Girl to Reach Goals
4:45 p.m. CDT, October 11, 2011
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo.—
Beaches, Disney World and a bottlenose dolphin named Winter. Those are on the to do list for four-year-old Ashlyn Fowler.
"We're going to swim in the swimming pool and we're going to swim at the beach and play with sandcastles," said Ashlyn, who lives in Lee's Summit.
You see, Ashlyn, an avid swimmer, was born without her left arm. But her new prosthesis makes everything, even swimming a little easier. She calls it her helper arm and she'll test it out in the ocean later this month when she goes to Florida to meet a fellow amputee who also loves to swim.
"Her tail fell off in a crab trap, but she still gets her helper tail," said Ashlyn.
Winter the dolphin went through extensive rehabilitation after she lost her tail at three-months-old. Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, the same company that made Ashlyn's arm, made Winter a prosthetic tail to help her glide through the water.
"[Ashlyn] sees the dolphin and she just relates for some reason," said Keith Andrews of Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics. "I would've expected a much stronger battle trying to get her to wear the prostheses and get her to use the prostheses, but that hasn't been the case and I think we can tie that back to the dolphin."
Ashlyn's mother, Trisha Whitehead, said she's thankful Winter has provided unconventional motivation for her daughter.
"There was a lot of shock, sadness," said Whitehead, recalling the months after Ashlyn's birth. "You start worrying about her future and what she won't be able to do. But she has been amazing. She can do everything. And she does it amazingly well."
Ashlyn's prosthetic arm isn't just for aesthetic reasons. Using it means that she will build symmetrical muscles on her right and left side. This is important to prevent possible injury to her spinal cord.
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