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Suki Unsworth

Suki came to NWVS in February 2019 after suffering an unknown spinal trauma which resulted in her becoming paralysed in her pelvic limbs. She had an examination with our neurology specialists and an MRI examination to determine the cause of the neurological deficits. Suki was eventually diagnosed with an intervertebral disc extrusion at L2-L3. The day after admission, Suki was treated surgically with a hemilaminectomy to remove the intervertebral disc material from the spinal canal. Suki had a urinary catheter placed after the operation to assist with urine production and minimise any secondary related problems with incontinence.

Sagittal (A) and transverse (B) T2W MR images of the lumbar spinal region showing extradural material (intervertebral disc material, red arrows) severely compressing the spinal cord (yellow arrows).

Suki was unable to walk in the post-operative period and also had hindlimb muscle spasticity which can be a neurological side effect of her injury and began physiotherapy treatment the day after surgery with the in-house veterinary physiotherapist. She was treated with massage, joint range of motion exercises and sensory stimulation to encourage sensation to her hindlimb paws and to encourage her muscle tone to return to normal. Massage can also help prevent problems associated with recumbency where the patient is lying still for long periods of time.

Suki’s owner was taught physiotherapy exercises to perform when she returned home to continue her functional recovery which included assisted standing. This slowed the progression of muscle atrophy which is common in paralysed patients when the muscle is not being used and also helped with her proprioception. She returned on a fortnightly basis for check-ups and physiotherapy appointments where her home exercise plan was updated.

Suki has continued to show improvement with a combination of other manual therapies and assisted exercise, including cavaletti poles to encourage a better gait pattern. She has also undergone underwater treadmill therapy near her home to further provide gait re-education and strengthening exercise in a buoyant environment.  Her muscle tone and incontinence have both improved with time alongside her gait improvements allowing her to access her litter tray unassisted and regain her independence around the house. She is a great example of how dedication from her owner, the veterinary surgeons and the wider rehabilitation team have worked together to have a fantastic outcome for this lovely girl.

We also accept outpatient referrals for veterinary physiotherapy here at North West Veterinary Specialists. If you feel your pet may benefit then please contact us to organise a referral with one of our physiotherapists.

Click here to view our Veterinary Physiotherapy service