So as some of you will have seen from my Facebook post on Monday, the lovely Maya has made a great recovery from her injury and is officially ‘signed off’ and fit to return to her training as a search and rescue dog.
Maya is a working golden retriever, she’s a trainee SARDA dog hoping to join the Kinder Mountain Rescue Team on completion of her training. Last August she suffered a traumatic incident that was diagnosed to be a strained iliopsoas and sartorius muscle injury on the underneath side of her right pelvis. This injury can vary significantly in its rehabilitation time, and can take anywhere between 3 and 12 months to heal.
When Maya came for her first assessment last November, she’d been on cage rest since August with only 2 X 10 minute walks per day. Maya is a very hyper active dog and this period of restriction had really taken its toll on both dog and owner. I think they were both a bit ‘down in the dumps’ by the time they’d arrived at my door! I like to think that I’m attentive to both animal and owner when you choose me as your physio. Having an injured animal is an emotional time for owners and it causes a lot of stress for both the person and the animal.
So back to Maya, we set out a 12 week treatment plan, consisting of 4 intensive weeks of PEMF therapy, weekly visits where I would massage, mobilise, stretch and use therapeutic ultrasound to deal with the majority of the muscle strains and compensatory issues (Animals compensate for pain, so they put more strain on the contralateral or diagonal opposite part of their body, which can be become tense and fatigued as a result)
From the video above you ca see that Maya has become weak and adapted her gait through her hind limbs, you’ll notice that she circles them into the middle rather than taking delibrate straight steps that fall in line with the front limbs.
I sent Dan home with a list of exercises, from core balancing and strengthening work on the wobble cushion to increased lead walks. As much as confinement can help injuries, there comes a point where not using the muscles causes atrophy and also Maya was in danger of further injury due to lack of physical and mental stimulation and she was ready for exploding and hurting herself in the process!!
So within a week or two we were up to 30 minute walks, and each week we built on this, we added in steps, hills, raised poles in the Dan’s hallway and everything was going really well, Maya was up to 2 hours walking a day after 6 weeks of treatment, so we decided to allow her a couple of minutes off lead! Unfortunately she was explosive about it and within a few days, she’d regressed. I never believed that she’d tweaked the original injury, she looked like she’d overused her lumbars and was feeling the soreness in her back, I always felt her back was never quite in a neutral position and we’d been working on this as well as her pelvic muscles.
So we re-grouped, took a step back and made a new plan! I treated the lumbars, we worked harder on her core strength, used hot water bottles before and after walks to warm the muscles and within 3 weeks it was time to try again, but this time Dan walked her until she was tired then let her off the lead! A nerve wracking time, but she was fine and gradually the off lead tine increased and Dan was able to start doing some mini search and rescue training exercises with her. And they’ve not looked back since.
I’m so pleased to have recently received this video of Maya on an avalanche training weekend in Scotland. We’d planned to get Maya to this event but were happy to be led by her recovery and cancel if need be, but she made it! I think she made Dan’s year on this weekend as I remember him saying at the beginning, I just want my dog back, if she gets back to being a SARDA dog then that’s the cherry on the cake, but I need her just to be out of pain and happy first.
That’s my kind of client, animal first sport second. But, you know, when you put your animal first, the sport seems to follow anyway. So I’m happy to send Dan and Maya on their way to complete the end of the rehabilitation on their own, focusing on building strength and stamina so that Maya can return to her training as a SARDA dog! But its not a final goodbye as I’ll be checking in with Maya every couple of months to keep her in top condition and help prevent any further injuries from occurring. (Check out the prices page www.thecrescentvetphysio.co.uk/prices for my monthly preventative physio plans)
Watch out kinder mountain rescue, I think you’ll have a team mate back soon!