June 2017

Pet of the Month: 
Molly Andrews 2 Year 3 Month Old Female Lurcher

Molly was referred to the Smart Clinic in March of this year for rehabilitation following repair of a neck fracture that had occurred when Molly suffered a traumatic fall whilst running in a field in the February.

On presentation at the Smart Clinic Molly was non-ambulatory and stayed mainly in lateral recumbency during the first appointment. She would lift her head up voluntarily and had good ability to turn her head. She was able to get herself into a sternal position with minimal assistance and voluntary, but uncoordinated, movement was initiated in all four limbs. When supported in a standing position, Molly was able to support her own body weight.

On examination Molly would correctly place her paw in her left hind without delay and with only a slight delay in the right hind. This was however markedly delayed in both her left and right front leg. Deep pain sensation was normal in all four limbs and during examination Molly did initiate some stepping with both her back legs whilst being supported and would wag her tail voluntarily. There was moderate muscle atrophy of the muscles in Molly’s neck and shoulder region bilaterally. The muscle tone in Molly’s limbs was very high overall, and she tended to rapidly flick her legs rather than initiate slow or targeted movements.

Due to the traumatic nature of Molly’s injury we started a rehabilitation programme aiming to restore a functional ambulatory gait pattern where we would see Molly twice a week as an inpatient. This allowed us to initially focus on improving Molly’s ability to support herself in sternal recumbency and standing positions. We also prescribed home exercises aiming to stimulate the return of her neurological function in her fore and hind limbs.

Within the first few weeks Molly’s condition had already considerably improved. She was able to sit up without any assistance, and was attempting to stand up independently. She was able to walk whilst supported in her harness and was placing both her front and back paws correctly most of the time, although the right forelimb remained the weakest. Her gait was still somewhat uncoordinated and Molly fatigued quickly, but her mobility was much better and she did not show any discomfort in her neck region at all. She was raring to go!
By the end of April we were already able to reduce Molly’s treatment frequency to once a week. Before long Molly was fully ambulatory with just a mildly ataxic gait. The atrophied musculature in Molly’s neck and shoulder region had increased in mass and tone and muscle mass in both hind limbs had markedly increased. She now required minimal assistance during mobility and was more than keen to start exercising! She was keeping us all on our toes!

Considering the injury Molly originally sustained and her presenting clinical signs we are beyond pleased with how well she has done and how quickly she has progressed. We are still treating Molly to address our remaining concerns relating to improving her balance, proprioceptive awareness and accuracy of foot placement to reduce the risk of falls when she is moving at speed or turning. We have progressed Molly’s home physiotherapy exercises to address these concerns and see her at the clinic every fortnight to continue to monitor her progress.

Molly has been such a rewarding case to be involved with for all of the staff and the dedication her owners have shown to her rehabilitation and homework to support her treatment at the clinic is testament to how well she has done. Molly is a beautiful dog with a beautiful character and we are so pleased to see her back on her feet again!