Honey the Labrador is one of our oldest patients at 15 years old. She started physiotherapy in January this year to help her maintain mobility as she had poor muscle mass, hind limb weakness and proprioceptive deficits (lack of awareness of where her hind paws were).
At her first session Honey was ataxic (wobbly and uncoordinated) with very weak hind limbs, she was very stiff with a lot of compensatory muscle tightness.
With older dogs we do advise owners that sometimes it is more about making the dog comfortable and maintaining what they have versus making great improvements. But not always...
Honey attends a weekly session where she has a combination of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT), class IV LASER therapy and gentle massage. This combination of electrotherapies is aimed at alleviating an discomfort, relaxing tight muscles and improving joint range of motion.
Following this therapy she either has a gentle hydrotherapy treadmill "workout" where she is supported in walking very slowly through mid thigh depth water, or some gentle assisted balance and proprioceptive exercises. All aimed at improving body awareness and gently strengthening her muscles.
While Honey still has a lot of compensatory muscle tightness and joint stiffness she has become much more comfortable and we have seen super improvements in her movement and stamina. For example, during her first few hydrotherapy treadmill sessions she was only able walk very slowly for reps lasting only 5 seconds. Part of this was due to being weak and stiff, and part was due to being unsure of the belt movement. Honey has come on in leaps and bounds. She is now much more confident especially in the treadmill and is able to do several reps of 45sec duration.
This may not seem a dramatic improvement but to Honey it makes a huge difference in her mobility and quality of life.
Well Done Honey!! We are very proud of you.