Alumnus helps give people — and dogs — the ability to walk again

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a man holds a dog on his shoulders in front of a sign for boland prosthetics and orthotic center
Mercer University alumnus Chris Scrivner poses for a photo with Goose in front of the sign for Boland Prosthetics and Orthotics in Warner Robins, where Scrivner is a resident.

Mercer University alumnus Chris Scrivner was at work when he got a call about a three-legged puppy that needed some help.

The dog was missing a paw, and would he make a prosthetic leg for him?

“I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely,’” recalled Scrivner, who’d done prosthetics for other dogs in the past.

He and his wife, Mercer alumna Loren Scrivner, picked up the red fox Labrador named Goose that day and gave the pup not only a new paw but also a new family.

Now Goose is a common sight at Warner Robins-based Boland Prosthetic and Orthotic Center, where Scrivner is a resident.

“Goose is a great ice breaker (for patients) because he’s got such a simple issue and a simple solution. He’s missing a paw, and we built him a paw,” Scrivner said. “I think whenever you break it down to something that straightforward, a lot of times when people see that right off the bat, it kind of gets them to open up and gives them a lot of motivation.

“We’ve got a lot of patients that will walk these parallel bars, and Goose will walk on the outside of them next to them while they’re learning how to walk, and that’s a really cool thing.”

Scrivner became interested in prosthetics at a young age. Growing up, he sometimes brought a friend to his prosthetics and orthotics appointments.

The Mercer On Mission Vietnam program, in which students fit prosthetics and orthotics on amputees and children with disabilities, attracted Scrivner to Mercer. He went to Vietnam twice with the program, and the trips solidified his decision to pursue prosthetics and orthotics as a career.

“You’ve got these guys that will come in that haven’t walked in 40 years that will do just about anything to try to figure out how to walk,” Scrivner said. “You’ve got some people that are coming right off their farm that are all working with their hands, that are up gathering or working in the fields for their families.

“And so when they come in and you’re able to get them up standing and walking, and they’re able to go back to work and do those things. It’s unbelievable.”

A man fits a patient for a prosthesis while a dog looks on.
Paul Boland, owner of Boland Prosthetic and Orthotic Center, fits a patient for a prosthesis while Goose looks on.

At Mercer, Scrivner took biomedical engineering classes and other prerequisites for prosthetics school. With the help of a Mercer On Mission connection, he started working at Boland while still in college, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2018.

He then went to Northwestern University, earning a master’s degree is prosthetics and orthotics in 2020, becoming a resident at Boland that same year. After serving as a resident for two years, Scrivner will have the opportunity to become board certified.

Scrivner said he loves how each day of his job is different. On any given day, he could be treating someone with plantar fasciitis, fitting a baby with a corrective helmet or giving somebody the ability to walk again.

The first prosthesis he made for a dog was about a year ago. Before that, he made a wheelchair for a dog at a community member’s request. Scrivner continues to make new paws for Goose as he grows.

close up on a man putting a prosthesis on a dog
Chris Scrivner attaches a prosthesis to Goose’s leg.

He said he enjoys working with his hands and problem-solving.

“You can work and help (people) figure out how to overcome probably the biggest obstacle of their life,” he said.

He recalled a patient who is a double amputee.

“We have a Marine that has an amputation above the knee and an amputation below the knee, and he now wakeboards regularly, and so he’s the perfect example of (how you can) give somebody the ability to do all this cool stuff that a lot of people take for granted,” he said.

“I think that it’s very fulfilling, and I love that.”

a dog lies in a crate
Goose lays in his crate in the workshop at Boland Prosthetics and Orthotics.

 

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Jennifer Falk is a digital content specialist at Mercer University. She creates and maintains written and multimedia content for primary University web pages. She collaborates with various schools and departments to ensure timely and consistent web page content is maintained. She also examines web data and analytics to drive content creation decisions.