Generally speaking, when dogs come to therapy for the first time progress is not dramatic and immediate. They often feel much more comfortable after the first session, then gradually make progress over the following weeks and months. However, now and then we get an extremely positive response to therapy after just one session.
At the end of December 2020 Buster had an accident where he fell on glass and lacerated the tendon in metatarsal region (lower limb) of his right hind. He had surgery that same day to reconnect the tendons and was put in supportive bandages. When the bandages came off Buster was very unsure about using his right hind, either holding it up completely or very tentatively toe touching. He also had a lot of muscle wastage due to disuse of the limb.
Buster came for his first therapy session on the 5th February 2021. He did not use his right hind when walking, and when standing still he was barely touching the ground and therefore not placing any bodyweight through the leg. He had a lot of compensatory muscle tightness and stiffness, especially though the back, causing him to look arched, and he was understandably very wary of his right hind being handled.
During Busters first therapy session we used a combination of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT) and class 4 LASER therapy to help alleviate discomfort, relax the tight muscles and ease the stiffness. At the end of his first appointment Buster had much more normal muscle tone, he was more comfortable with a more relaxed posture, and when standing and walking he was placing some weight through his right hind. Fantastic!
We sent Buster home with a home therapy plan which included advice on:
Heat therapy and gentle relaxing massage to help relax his muscles.
Tapotement massage, which are light/gentle stimulatory rhythmic movements that wake up the neuromuscular system and are useful for engaging the muscles before exercise.
Slow pace walking in a Perfect Fit dog harness and dual clip lead to encourage him to use his right hind on walks.
Active controlled exercises targeted to encourage even limb use and correct joint movement.
Buster has continued to make great progress. When he came back for his second session Buster was placing 13% bodyweight through his right hind and was maintaining a more relaxed posture. His therapy again involved PEMFT, LASER and massage, as well as some passive stretches. We also introduced him to the hydrotherapy treadmill which we plan to use to help build up and strengthen his muscles.
Buster had his fourth session this weekend (three weeks after his initial appointment). He is happy with his leg being handled, he is consistently using his right hind when walking, and his stance analysis showed that he is now placing 17% bodyweight through the right hind when standing. For reference ideal weight bearing through a front limb would be 20%. When standing he has a normal relaxed straight back posture. Buster still has some compensatory muscle tightness, however, it is far less compared to his initial session.
Buster is continuing to come for weekly sessions, where as well as continuing to work on maintaining good muscle tone and movement, we will be focusing on building up his muscle mass and strength. Which will be a slower process, as it takes time for muscle to build (just like when we go to the gym), but we are looking forward to seeing him progress further, to allow him to get back to regular doggy life.
WELL DONE BUSTER!!