Friday, October 21, 2011

Rehabilitating Riley's Hock

Riley and I have been working on rehabilitating her rear leg now that the hock fracture is healed.  I think she is doing really well.  She has had no trouble with any of the exercises.  In just the first week, we hiked twice for 30 minutes (including hills) and then walked nearly two miles on another day.  I thought I would have to build her up more slowly, but she is so eager for more and is not coming up sore or lame at all.  I have been alternating days with hikes or walks and then rehab exercises.

If you were reading this blog over a year ago when Katie was still with us (in fact she died exactly a year ago today), you might remember me working with her on cavalettis.  Katie worked very hard and enjoyed the cavalettis, but Riley is clearly bored and not impressed.  The key to cavalettis is that they must step over them slowly.  No hopping or trotting over them.  It is more difficult for the muscles to do it slow and deliberate.
This exercise is called Snoopy.  You lift a front leg and the diagonal rear leg for a short period of time.  You encourage the dog to balance on two legs.  It works on core and stabilizer muscles.  I can definitely tell she is more out of balance when the left hind leg is on the ground.
These are turns on the forehand.  They just get her to move her rear end and work the muscles that move the legs side ways.
These are all good exercises for helping to keep an aging dog's rear end strong.  Too many have shaky rear legs and begin to lose mobility.  These exercises will help prevent that.  I also have Riley doing sit-stand-sit-stand.  Sometimes she sits very tight (like in the photo at top) and sometimes she has her left hind leg slightly kicked out.  She is also working on backing up and going up and down stairs.  I am also trying to get her moving on a variety of footing and surfaces. 

Here are some of Riley's x-rays so you can see the progression. This one was taken July 27th, 2011, the morning after the fracture.
This x-ray was taken right after surgery on July 29th, 2011.
This x-ray was taken after six weeks in a splint on September 12th, 2011.  It was very disappointing to see that it did not look much different from the x-ray above.  However, when you magnify this x-ray using a special program for x-rays, you could see some healing.
Taken October 11th, 2011.  You can see that there is clearly a union now. 
Dr. G says that he will likely never see another hock fracture like this one.