Molly suffered from a condition called an fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) 6 years ago which affected her right hand side and 1.5 years ago which affected her left hand side.
An FCE is a sudden onset injury to the spinal cord as a result of a blockage of the vessels which supply blood to an area of the spinal cord. When the blood flow to the spinal cord is reduced or stopped that area becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients which can cause the spine to become dysfunctional and lead to the clinical signs we see.
An FCE usually occurs during times of activity and the majority of dogs will yelp once or seem painful at first but afterwards there is no pain associated with this condition. There will be sudden loss of function to one limb, both back legs, one side of the body or all four limbs. This will depend on which part of the spinal cord has been affected.
A presumptive diagnosis can be made, based on the history and thorough neurological examination by a vet but an MRI scan should be performed to confirm the FCE.
Surgery is not an option for a FCE so physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are crucial in the recovery of these patients. Time is a major factor in the recovery to allow the spinal cord to make new blood vessels or to recannalize (open up) the obstructed vessel.
Molly has been coming to us at Mochdre Vets Hydrotherapy since July 2017.
This video was taken during one of her first sessions.
During Molly’s sessions in the underwater treadmill we had the water at a height to provide enough stabilty for Molly but also to encourage good foot placement in the aim to improve her gait. At Mochdre Vets Hydrotherapy our water in the treadmill and pool is heated between 28 and 32 degress celcius. This is therapeutic water temperature.
Therapeutic water opens blood vessels allowing vasodilation and muscle relaxation. This reduces pain, relieves aches and pains and helps circulation.
The low impact exercise in the treadmill increases muscle mass and the range of movement in the joint. Due to the low impact exercise dogs can do a lot more exercise in the water than on dry land. The low impact exercise and muscle building allows the re-modification of gait and reduces/stops recompensatory issues.
Exercise produces endorphins and as you can see if this video, Molly loves her sessions and barks with approval!
In this second video, taken on her 10th treadmill session you can see how much of an improvement she has made in stability and in her foot placement. Even though this was an old injury for Molly, it just shows how much hydrotherapy and physiotherapy can help improve gait.
During Molly’s last session, she started moving her tail whilst walking – although this may seem a small thing, to Molly who is recovering from 2 FCE’s this is really impressive!
You can see in the pictures below how much the position of Molly’s tail has improved. Before her accident her tail would bend over onto her back.
Mollydog had a FCE when she was 5 yrs old, So was left with radial paralysis mainly on her right side. She is nearly 12 yrs old now. Molly has had many treatments over the years to help her walk. However, she’s on her second block of underwater treadmill therapy and WOW does she love it. She barks continuously but it’s with enjoyment. Before the treatment she had to wear little boots on her back paws, but since using the treadmill, she hasn’t needed to wear once. She doesn’t fall over anymore when she does her little shake off. She hasn’t needed any loxicom since starting the hydrotherapy either. She can walk up mountains again too without any side effects. This is all down to the hydrotherapy treatment and Physio therapy that’s she receiving from the awesome duo Gwenan and Abbie. ALL the staff at Mochdre Vets are absolutely wonderful and care so much about the animals and their owners. They are always welcoming, kind and friendly. I can’t thank them enough for the fantastic care they have shown to all three of my dogs.