When our 10 year old Siberian Husky, Sterling, started limping on her hind leg, we were devastated and saddened knowing she was in terrible pain. After spending $1,000 on veterinary bills while trying to get answers, we reached out to OrthoPets to see if they could help. Sterling was diagnosed with a CCL injury at her stifle joint.
Due to Sterling’s age and the expense associated with surgery, we decided to pursue bracing to help support her leg and allow her to walk & run in comfort again. Within a week after casting Sterling’s leg for a new custom brace, it arrived with detailed installation, break-in, and maintenance instructions.
After installing her custom OrthoPets brace, we could immediately tell that Sterling’s hind leg was being supported properly. It fits her PERFECTLY and doesn’t slide out of place. Sterling is now able to walk, run, and navigate stairs like she could before her CCL injury and understands that the brace is helping her to do so.
Thank you so much for your compassion and for getting Sterling back on her feet so she can enjoy her retirement years with her family & friends!
Jason, Kelly, and Sterling
Minneapolis, MN USA
Shine’s owner found him injured after being bit by a dog. This injury left him with irreversible damage from his pastern to his hoof. Colorado State University performed a rare hind limb amputation at the level of the pastern. They then placed him in a specialized cast that would allow him to bear weight, but not directly put weight on the amputation site while his prosthesis was being fabricated. OrthoPets owner/founder Martin Kaufmann was present at CSU during the amputation to create the fiberglass impression immediately post-operatively.
Large animal prosthetic patients have special considerations due to their size. The skin can be friable when using a prosthesis due to the pressure from the weight of the patient. Large animal patients also require a 24-hour wearing schedule since they are often turned out to pasture. Due to the continuous wearing schedule and the outdoor living conditions, the prostheses utilize a removable foam liner that can be replaced as needed without returning the device to OrthoPets. The prosthesis allows the patient to return to their normal life style. At the initial fitting, Shine took to the prosthesis quickly.
Shine has now returned to his normal lifestyle. The prosthesis has allowed Shine to keep up with his family whether out in the pasture, trotting, or even galloping. The prosthesis was fabricated with his lifestyle in mind. It has special modifications to manage the constant exposure of being outdoors. The prosthesis will last his lifetime as the removable foam liners can be replaced as needed. Shine has overcome the odds and will live out the rest of his life happy and healthy. The fun video here tells Shine’s story.
We love when we are given a challenge to solve an unusual problem and always get excited when we are approached to work with a less common species! In this case it was a Pekin Duck named “Dutchess.” We were approached by her owner to discuss the possibility of fabricating a prosthesis for one of her limbs as she was missing her foot as well as a portion above it.
In June 2015, Dutchess was found at the town’s Aquatic Park with other wild ducks. A Good Samaritan brought her to the veterinary hospital that the current owner worked at after noticing she had fishing line wrapped around one of her legs. After further evaluation, it was determined the affected portion of the limb was not viable. A partial limb amputation was performed to save as much limb as possible.
The next morning, they found her standing in her kennel hissing at the staff. At that point, her current owner decided that she would be able to have a better recovery at home as she had a few other ducks that could help motivate her. After several months of bandage changes and restriction, she was able to go out in the pen with the other ducks. In addition, all of the handling during the healing process helped tame her. Dutchess was doing well but her owners now noticed that she was starting to struggle with some normal activities such as grooming and getting around in the winter. Her owner sought out OrthoPets hoping to improve her mobility enough that she could spend some time in the water and have enough balance to groom properly.
Dutchess and her owners were so happy to have her prosthesis and try it on for the first time. Though Dutchess is going to take some time to adjust to it, the owners are very dedicated to her rehabilitation and have been working with her at home. Dutchess has been seen shaking her feathers while in her device which lets the owners know she is happy with it and they feel with some time she will figure it out and greatly improve her mobility. You can see more of Dutchess’s progress in videos on our Vimeo video channel.
I want to sincerely thank OrthoPets for their amazing work and expertise with animal orthotics. My 6 yo Carolina Dog, Shia, suffered a partial CCL tear after some play. I was advised to proceed with surgery. After reviewing studies and alternative options, I decided to pursue a conservative treatment plan to see if we can get her to heal without the trauma of surgery Under the direction of my rehab Vet, we decided to purchase a stifle brace from OrthoPets. Wise decision! The quality and design of the product I received was unbelievable – perfect fit and molded specifically for her leg taking into account her anatomy! After 4 months of strict rehab and wearing the brace, Shia has returned to nearly total weight bearing on the limb with and without the brace. We continue to use the brace for protection as she tolerates it very well. I highly recommend this company to help with your pet’s rehabilitation.
Thank you OrthoPets!
Michael and Shia
If you’re reading our blog, you are probably familiar with “Daffodil on Wheels,” the plucky and awe-inspiring two-legged Chihuahua who uses an OrthoPets Wheelie Vest. Daffodil has her own Facebook page and many friends and fans who love to see videos of her hiking, popping wheelies and generally kicking butt in (and out of!) her wheels. While Daffodil took to her wheels with a combination of sheer talent and work doing rehabilitation with her owner, not every dog is such a natural when they first receive their OrthoPets Wheelie Vests.
Meet Mocha, a 9-year old, 12 pound Chihuahua mix. Mocha was born with agenesis of her left forelimb. She also had two different IVDD (slipped disc) events in her history that were causing her pain and discomfort. Her owners found OrthoPets when they were searching for ways to help her avoid future back injuries and give her easier and more comfortable mobility.
The two options that Rachel, Mocha’s OrthoPets Case Manager, presented to Mocha’s owners were either a hoppy/wheelie vest or a carpal orthosis to support Mocha’s “good” forelimb with a possible combination of both in the future. Mocha was not a candidate for a prosthetic on her residual limb since to build a functional forelimb prosthetic, the patient needs at least 40-50% of the radius and ulna remaining. Ultimately, Mocha’s owners, veterinarian, and Rachel opted for the Wheelie Vest with an option to add a carpal support later if Mocha started to show any signs that additional carpal support was necessary.
The device that OrthoPets designed for Mocha is a fairly standard Wheelie Vest, though it was designed with the central axel a little bit to the left to accommodate Mocha’s habit of adducting her right forelimb in motion. Mocha’s device also came with an integrated D-ring leash attachment at the front in order to help teach Mocha how to turn her wheels, which can be one of the more challenging aspects for patients learning to use a Wheelie Vest.
When Mocha first got her vest, she was clearly nervous about it. Her owners worked hard with her to associate it with positive events (like treats) and in the beginning they started by just putting Mocha in it and letting her have treats for sitting calmly in the Wheelie Vest instead of trying to wriggle out. Once Mocha got comfortable with lying quietly in the device, she was able to move on to short sessions walking straight ahead on a smooth, easy surface in a controlled environment.
Eventually, Mocha started gaining confidence in her wheels and going faster, as well as learning to turn herself to avoid obstacles. Once she started picking up speed (literally and figuratively!) it became clear that her right forelimb was sometimes hitting the axel of the cart when she moved any faster than a walk. It was determined that it was partially a result of Mocha’s habitual adducting of that limb to bear weight on from before she had her wheels. Mocha’s device was sent back to OrthoPets for an adjustment to move the axel forward giving her more space for that front paw. Even with the adjustment, it was important that Mocha continued rehabilitation exercises to help learn appropriate posture and more even weight distribution with her trunk.
Mocha’s device came back to OrthoPets for one more adjustment to strengthen one of the bars of her device. Once the adjustment was completed and the Wheelie Vest was sent back home, Mocha’s owners reported that Mocha was excited just to see them come out of the box! Her owners also report that since using her wheels regularly, not only is Mocha more mobile, but she has less overall pain to the point that she hasn’t needed any pain medication for her legs or back. Wow!
Great job Mocha and family! You’re an inspirational little pup and we love seeing your success with your wheels!
Our American Mastiff, Duke, suffered a serious spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed initially on his left side. As he recovered he began to overuse his right carpus (wrist) and began to injure it. Our vet recommended a custom orthotic from OrthoPets. From our initial contact with them, they were extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and professional. They truly cared about Duke’s situation. Martin and his team of specialists thoroughly explained our options and developed a plan, and an Orthotic, that would allow Duke maximum use of his leg. OrthoPets fantastic staff and customer service are some of the best I have seen, and have worked closely with us through numerous fittings and adjustments. Today Duke is doing great and is able to walk, run at a full sprint, and enjoy a great life thanks to OrthoPets!
OrthoPets Case Study: Shia
Shia is a 6-year-old female spayed mixed breed dog who lives in North Carolina. She presented in January 2017 with a partially torn CCL in her right hind leg. Shia’s owner wanted to pursue a conservative course of rehabilitation with an orthotic instead of surgery. Shia’s case was relatively straightforward, with a good possibility for a “curative outcome” which means we have provided a stable environment to allow the body to lay down functional scar tissue. After reviewing her media, additional componentry was not deemed necessary for suspension or control. However, due to her thin fur and prominent malleoli, it was decided that additional modifications would be made to the device to alleviate additional pressure on those prominent anatomical landmarks. Relief channels were ground into the foam of the distal tarsus lateral, medial and cranial. Then, a thin black, non-friction material called “glide” was added to this area.
Shia received her device in mid-January and used it in conjunction with a formal rehab program at Vanguard Veterinary Hospital in West End, North Carolina. Her rehab program included use of a gait analysis mat, so we wanted to share some of her GLS numbers. Initially, her owner was concerned because in her first week with the device, Shia actually showed more weight bearing out of the device than in it. She had a GLS score on her right hind of 77 with the device and 83 without it (higher number shows more weight bearing). This favoring of the leg can be common upon first receiving a device; patients do not yet trust the device to support them and experience muscle fatigue from starting to use muscles again that have atrophied due to the injury.
Shia’s orthotic did return to OrthoPets for an adjustment about one month into her time in her device because she developed an irritation at her achilles due to her distal migration of the device. The adjustment involved grinding the top of the shell to decrease the overall height as her flank/groin was pushing the device down and adding non-friction glide material to the achilles strap to help alleviate the rubbing. By this time, thanks also to her fantastic rehab work with Vanguard, she was at a GLS score of 100 on her right hind both with and without the brace, so her owner felt comfortable letting her go without the brace for a few days for the adjustments to be completed.
Now, not even four months after receiving her device, Shia is completely weight-bearing again and uses her orthotic just as a sports brace to help prevent re-injuring the ligament when she does high-impact activities like playing at the beach with her owner!
Meet Morgan! Morgan is a shepherd mix pup who received her below tarsus prosthetic device through Dr. Kern at our fantastic Michigan Partner Clinic, Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation. Morgan’s initial consult was at only 10 weeks of age, not long after she was adopted by a pair of veterinarians. Morgan was born without her distal left hind limb, below her tarsus. She would to try to walk on her stump when moving slowly, but would hold it up and hop on three legs when she wanted to go faster. Sometimes, she had a hard time getting traction with her stump, which was challenging for her. She would also to extend the tarsus/hock joint of that limb very straight, possibly in an effort to “reach” for the ground with the stump.
Everyone agreed that Morgan would be a great candidate for a prosthesis, but because of her young age and likelihood of needing multiple devices as she outgrew them, her owners opted to wait to start the prosthetic process until Morgan was closer to full grown. In the meantime, Morgan did a lot of rehabilitation at Pawsitive Steps to work on improving her core strength, balance and especially focused on flexing the tarsal joint of her residual limb. It was also very important to get her comfortable with that limb being handled to prepare her for donning and doffing of the device.
When Morgan was close to full grown, Dr. Kern did her fiberglass impression and measurements for her prosthetic device. Because of the amount of limb remaining, Morgan was borderline between making a prosthetic with a non-articulating tarsus (no motion) and an articulating one (motion allowed). Since Morgan is young and preserving as much range of motion in her tarsal joint as possible was priority, Dr. Kern and Silver (Morgan’s OrthoPets Case Manager) decided on the articulating version, with motion limiting straps available in case Morgan did not handle the articulation well.
Morgan received her device in August of 2016. Her device not only helps protect her stump and gives her good traction, but makes up the limb length discrepancy she has so that her hips can be level and her spine can stay neutral, which is very important for long-term health and comfort. Slow acclimation to the device is important to ensure the patient is using the device properly. Otherwise, they may form “bad habits” such as lifting their prosthetic limb during faster gaits, improper sitting, etc. Rehabilitation and supervised, structured, slow and steady work upon receipt of a device is important so that patients can learn good habits and become accustomed to using the device as if their prosthetic limb had been there the entire time and eventually they can tear around and play.
Great job, Morgan and family! We love your pirate style!
Bianca has been doing exceptionally well! Here is a video of Bianca 11 days after her initial fitting: Bianca: 11 Days Post Initial Prosthetic Fitting
Gibson is a 5-year-old MC Border Collie that lives in Mexico. His veterinarian is Dr. Gabriel Ramirez who has a long working relationship with OrthoPets. Dr. Ramirez frequently sees cases that have had complications elsewhere and is known to “think outside of the box” with the goal to his patients to gain their mobility back as quickly as possible. In Gibson’s case, he had a pancarpal arthrodesis. Unfortunately, the post-operative bandage was placed too tightly and caused tissue necrosis. The medical team tried to save the limb but eventually the “only” established option for him was a full-limb amputation. However, since the affected area was distal on the limb, the owner elected a sub-total amputation and prosthetic.
OrthoPets is currently gathering retrospective and prospective data on canine prosthetics, however, based on our current experience a few things are important when considering a prosthetic device: Prosthetic candidates should be amenable to handling of the residual limb and a long enough limb to allow appropriate suspension of the device and proprioception to properly use the device in a functional manner is necessary.
The combination of these two factors will translate into the functionality of the device and ultimately serve as a predictor for the success of the case. The total length of residuum is currently unknown, and it varies depending on the anatomy of the remaining limb. For example, we have some cases that show appropriate suspension with a mid-radius amputation while others don’t have prominent enough humeral epicondyles to allow successful suspension. In general, the more distal the better the chances to have a successful outcome. As such, Gibson is a perfect case for this treatment.
Regarding the surgical approach to a sub-total amputation with the goal of utilizing a prosthesis, it is important to consider the following:
- Skin suture line location to avoid scar tissue formation on the weight bearing surface of the limb
- Remaining soft tissue placement to encourage comfortable weight bearing
- Identification of nerves to avoid placement over the residuum
Gibson’s amputation was performed so that the accessory carpal bone remained which created a bulbous distal end aiding with the suspension. The device was fabricated with a removable liner for replacements to be sent as needed rather than requiring the device to be sent to us. A traditional style prosthesis has a “fixed” liner that is connected to the shell requiring the entire device and additional steps to replace or change the liner. The removable liner approach allows us to replace, duplicate and adjust the foam liner without needing the entire device.
Gibson was fit with his prosthesis and immediately took very well to it! So far, Gibson’s device has not needed any adjustments aside from tread replacement which can easily be done by his owner. The entire team at OrthoPets as well as his medical team was pleased with the fit of the device and how quickly Gibson adapted to his old activities such as playing with a Frisbee. Gibson will need regular rechecks to ensure that the device is not only fitting well but that the device is still providing appropriate function to his affected limb.
For additional information: Colorado State University is conducting an ongoing study evaluating partial amputation in dogs. Read more here.