Meet Ella ...
Ella has an amazing story that red dog rehabilition are proud to be a part of.
Ella is a lovely little female X-breed dog, who has now been adopted! We met Ella when she was in foster care with the Auckland SPCA; it was at this time she came to Total Physiotherapy for canine rehabilitation three months post foreleg amputation.
Her left foreleg had to be amputated because it had been severely fractured and healed abnormally. To give Ella a fresh start, and the best chance of good mobility, her left malformed foreleg was removed.
Ella had been in foster care for about 3 months and re-learning to walk in the underwater treadmill at K9 Aqua. Ella was taking longer than expected to adjust to being 3-legged so it was recommended she see us at Total Physiotherapy for rehabilitation assessment and assistance.
Most dogs cope fine being three legged, however, it does increase the strain on the remaining leg. Dog’s take approximately 60% of their body weight through their forelegs. In Ella’s case, she was a growing pup and now taking 60% of her body weight through one foreleg. All amputees risk repetitive strain injuries to their remaining leg due to the increased forces applied and Ella was no different. All amputee dogs, move their remaining leg more centrally under their body to help them balance. This creates abnormal forces for the joints of their remaining leg to cope with. Watching Ella walk, we could see Valgus occurring at her carpus (outward turning of her foot starting at ‘wrist’ height) and hyperextension of her carpus (‘wrist’ hitting the ground when walking). Essentially, her carpus (wrist) was collapsing under the strain of walking. Dogs usually walk with straight legs and their carpus (wrist) does not hit the ground.
Our concern with Ella was that we didn’t know how big she was going to grow and how long her good foreleg was going to ‘last’ under the increased forces. Our goals were:
The hind leg of a dog is attached to the body through the bones of the pelvis attached to the spine. The shoulder is attached to the body via a sling of muscles, attaching the shoulder to the ribs. Strengthening of the shoulder muscle is imperative to Ella’s long term success. To strengthen her shoulder, she continues to attend underwater treadmill therapy and performs a set of exercises nearly every day.
Underwater treadmill allows us to alter her workload by adjusting the water depth and speed of the treadmill. The underwater treadmill also allows us to easily see how she is walking and what gait changes she has made as she adapts to being 3-legged. Ella is also starting mini-push ups, side-to-side stabilisation and balance work to strengthen her core muscles and shoulder strength.
To support her collapsing carpus, we enlisted the help of Orthopets, USA. A series of measurements were taken, images created and a mold made to be sent to the US. From this information a customised orthotic support has been created for Ella.
Amputees have two support options – a prosthetic or an orthotic. A prosthetic can be made if there is enough leg remaining to attach the prosthetic to. Unfortunately, in Ella’s case the old fracture damage was extensive and the entire leg had to be removed. This only left her the option of supporting her remaining leg with an orthotic. Ella’s custom built orthotic allows movement in a frontal plane (bending and extending the carpus (wrist)) and limits over extension (wrist hitting the ground). The orthotic holds the carpus (wrist) as straight as her bones allow to prevent further valgus (outward turning of her foot) to occur. By supporting this joint, it stops repetitive strain injuries from occurring in her carpus (wrist) and reduces the likelihood of arthritis occurring.
Ella has been a super star and flown through the orthotic process. She is now walking with her orthotic on. We are slowly increasing the distance she walks and the time she is in the orthotic. Ella was rehomed in March to a very supportive family that is happy to have their new addition.
Ella has now been adopted! We wish her every happiness in her new home xx
We also invite you to read: 7 Steps to Ella's Orthotic Being A Success
Ella, foreleg amputatee
Ella having her mould made
Ella's customised orthotic support
Ella, ready for formal rehabilitation