OrthoPets Blog

Shou Azami and his OrthoPets Tarsus Brace- OrthoPets Japan

Shou is a 6.5-year-old MN American Shorthair, who suffered a traumatic fracture and displacement of his right tarsal bones (among other injuries to his pelvic limbs and hips) in 2017. He was initially treated with arthrodesis, but in early 2019 the implant broke. After explant, the option to try a custom orthosis was pursued, through Animal Clinic Kobayashi (aka OrthoPets Japan). A non-articulating cranial style tarsal orthosis with no paw segment was chosen, with an accommodative alignment at the tarsal joint, rather than attempting to correct his alignment.

Cats are typically challenging VOP patients for a number of reasons. Their loose skin and slick fur can make device suspension challenging, and navigating normal cat behavior, especially around regular limb handling, can take time and patience even for the most easygoing of felines and owners. Shou used a temporary splint as a trial very successfully, which indicated he would likely tolerate a custom device well too, which can be an important consideration for our feline VOP patients. On the device delivery day, Shou even felt comfortable enough in his new orthosis to take on a stack of dog beds!

Seela Gets Her Legs! Bilateral OrthoPets Hindlimb Prosthetic Devices

Seela is a 2.5 year old FS Golden Retriever who was rescued in Egypt by a Golden Retriever rescue organization in Maine. She was found with extensive injuries to her pelvic limbs with severe bilateral tarsal hyperextension and digital hyperflexion and severe muscle atrophy in her hindquarters. She underwent bilateral intertarsal amputations and her prosthetic journey began.

There were many challenges confronted with this case, the most challenging being her ability to ambulate in bilateral prosthetics. Because her tarsi are so extended, we chose to add a femoral cuff to each device to help prevent rotation. Helping her find the ground and engaging her weak hamstrings and quads and encourage stifle extension would prove to be a steep learning curve for Seela.

Seela’s bilateral device arrived at OrthoPets New England under the talented hands of Dr. Heather York. The devices fit without concern and Seela took her first normal steps in a long time. As expected, she walks with more stifle flexion than normal and, with time and strengthening of her muscles, will hopefully walk with a more level topline.

This case shows how important rehabilitation can be for animals who have lost normal function. This outcome was more successful than any of us anticipated and hoped for, thanks to her dedicated rescue, owner, and the doctor and not to mention the determination of Seela! We are thrilled to watch Seela progress on her new legs! Seels looks great in her new OrthoPets Hindlimb Prosthetic Devices (dog prosthetic legs).

Achilles and his OrthoPets Tarsus Device (Dog ankle brace)

Achilles’ initial tibial fibula fracture

Achilles is a 1-year old Doberman who presented to Paws for Rehabilitation with a healed tibial fibula fracture and mild DJD in left tarsus. Achilles has had two surgeries on his tibia and fibula with the first surgery to repair the fracture with a plate. Unfortunately, Achilles suffered a fracture distal to his bone plate and required additional surgery for that repair.

Achilles’ plate repair and the subsequent fracture distal to the plate

Achilles’ owner was looking for a long-term solution that would provide support so that Achilles could continue to play at daycare and continue his highly active lifestyle. Additionally, his referring veterinarian let us know that Achilles has a missing digit that had to be amputated at an early age. As the owner requested a long-term supportive solution, OrthoPets fabricated a non-articulating tarsus with an articulating paw segment for Achilles to protect his previous fractures and support his DJD.

Achilles is now doing great in his device and, according to his owner, “Achilles runs around like a possessed dog with his brace on at dog daycare 2-4 days per week.”

Great work, Achilles! He is now able to get out and enjoy some new fun with his new OrthoPets Tarsus, dog ankle, brace.

Eileen and her OrthoPets Forelimb Prosthetic Device

Eileen is a standard poodle mix that belongs to Dr. Theresa Wendland, DVM at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Eileen presents with a congenital deformity of right thoracic limb. One of the challenges of congenital deformities is protecting the limb and range of motion until the patient is no longer growing.

Dr. Wendland did a great job of protecting Eileen’s limb and created temporary prostheses, under the supervision of Martin Kaufmann, until she was ready for her “big girl” prosthetic device. Once she stopped growing, Dr. Wendland casted Eileen and sent it to the OrthoPets facility in Westminster, CO.

The design for Eileen’s device is a hybrid prosthetic-orthotic called a “Nena.” Eileen’s unique limb shape is not due to an amputation but she still needs help with limb length discrepancy. Her method of holding her thoracic limb was also taken into account with the design of her device. It didn’t take long for Eileen to take off running with her new leg!

Left: One of Eileen’s temporary devices
Right: Eileen’s OrthoPets “Nena”-style device

Sneaky the Tripawd with her OrthoPets Stifle Brace (Dog Knee, Dog ACL)

Sneaky Post-Op

Sneaky is a 10 year old female spayed Pit Bull mix, whose right hind leg was amputated in Feb. 2019, as a result of a pathological distal tibial fracture secondary to osteosarcoma. As an older dog who was also already showing signs of a possible cranial cruciate ligament rupture on her left hind limb, her owners were keen to protect her remaining stifle and give her added support. 

Sneaky’s Impression

A typical bully-type dog in conformation, Sneaky posed some interesting suspension challenges for an orthosis. Bully breed dogs tend to have petite, low-set malleoli, and muscular, conical thighs, all of which make for a challenging fit in a stifle orthosis. Ordinarily, we would solve this by adding a tarsal shell to the distal end of the device, but the frontal and transverse plane movements tripawd dogs typically use in gait can cause skin concerns with a rigid tarsal shell.

We wanted to avoid this issue for Sneaky, so instead of the usual plastic tarsal cuff, we created a new, technical suspension system for the distal end of Sneaky’s device, made of soft neoprene. This allows excellent grab of the device without the hard tarsal shell of our more traditional tarsal cuff. As a result, Sneaky’s device stays aligned nicely at the stifle while accommodating her gait patterns as a tripawd. Getting used to her device will still take time and patience, but she has an excellent team of rehab professionals to keep her moving! 

Featured Partner Clinic: Veterinary Mobility Center (Regina, Saskatchewan Canada)

Dr. Tara Hudye graduated from Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. Throughout her veterinary career, she developed an interest in musculoskeletal ailments. On a search for opportunities to offer additional therapeutics, she obtained her certification of canine rehabilitation from the University of Tennessee in 2012. Focusing on this specialty has led to numerous rewarding experiences such as lecturing at the Saskatchewan Vet Tech Conference (2012), teaching internship site for Canine Rehabilitation Institute CRI and Univ. of Tennessee CCRP, participating in the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race as a volunteer veterinarian (2018), and co-ordinating canine fitness classes and sport seminars. She recently obtained her certification for Intro to Medical Acupuncture, as well she is a member of the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians & International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management. Most importantly, it has allowed her to add quality of life to many patients in new ways she never thought previously possible, such as fitting dogs with prosthetic limbs, rehabilitating intervertebral disc disease dogs to walk and function, and ordering carts for paraplegic dogs so they can explore their world once again.

OrthoPets Canadian Prairies

Every case she sees is so unique and she loves the opportunity to work with the owners to achieve a common goal – increase function and quality of life for their beloved family member.

For more information or to contract Dr. Huyde please visit her website at www.vetmobilitycenter.com

We are always looking to partner with professionals that share the same goals and vision in animal rehabilitation! If you are a rehabilitation professional and are interested in becoming a partner clinic, please reach out to us at info@orthopets.com!

Nesta and her OrthoPets Forelimb Prosthetic Device

Nesta Marley is a 2-year-old MN Scottish Terrier, adopted from a Scottish Terrier rescue group, who was born with right forelimb ectrodactyly syndrome with medial partial syndactyly arthrogryposis of carpal and MCP joint and left ulnar agenesis and amelia of digits. Nesta has had two different prosthetic devices from two different companies for his left forelimb without success. 

X-ray of Nesta’s left forelimb

In April of 2018 OrthoPets began working with Nesta Marley. OrthoPets discussed the difficulty and concern for suspension for the left forelimb prosthesis due to poor humeral access and a small antebrachium. Nesta’s wonderful owner was determined to find a solution for him so he could live a normal life. The first device fabricated by OP would not stay on, despite many adjustments. We were getting closer to finding a solution, however, as this had been the most successful device he had tried so far. Nesta and his owner decided it was best to drive out to OP from New Jersey to find a solution for him in person. 

OrthoPets worked for about a week with Nesta and his owner to come up with a new design to stay on his leg. The new device was streamlined as much as possible, the humeral cuff was removed, and a new silicone antebrachial liner was fabricated. This was the first time experimenting with silicone as a solution for better purchase.  As soon as the new device was donned, Nesta Marley took off running in his new device down OrthoPet’s hallway. The OP Staff and his owner watched him nervously to see if the prosthesis would come flying off, but it did not! Finally, the OP Team had found a design that stayed on his challenging limb. Nesta even got to walk on concrete or the first time in his life.  

OrthoPets has received regular updates on progress and Nesta still loves his new leg. He is even in a contest to be voted Top Dog in New Jersey and we wish him the best of luck. 

Featured Partner Clinic: Avondale Veterinary Healthcare Complex (Iowa, USA)

Dr. Christie Carlo graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996. She spent the next 13 years seeing small animal patients (dogs and cats) in the Chicago western suburbs and Pella, IA. Dr. Carlo began searching for options to treat her patients with more than just a pill to manage their pain and discomfort associated with surgery, injury, and age. This led to her current position as a rehabilitation veterinarian.

In 2009 Dr. Carlo joined Avondale Veterinary Healthcare Complex where she began to pursue certification to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI). Becoming a CCRT has opened many opportunities to learn and pursue various avenues of pain management, surgery, and assistive devices that make dogs and cats more comfortable and mobile.

Dr. Carlo’s first orthotic case was in 2010. The owner was committed to the health and well-being of his dog so we continued to look for options to help her walk better. OrthoPets was contacted and the staff was extremely helpful making the stifle (knee) brace for this 13 year old Labrador possible. Since then Dr. Carlo has worked with patients placing braces on front and rear legs to support various tendon and ligament injuries. She also helped a stray shelter dog walk on all 4 legs after getting her paw severed in a trap by placing the dog in a prosthetic. Sadie was rescued by Animal Lifeline of Iowa and soon adopted into her forever home. Sadie’s story can be seen at avondalevet.com.

In addition to general veterinary medicine, Dr. Carlo enjoys all facets of canine and feline rehabilitation medicine including massage therapy, underwater treadmill (hydrotherapy), stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), laser therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluations, nutritional consults, tissue mineral analysis, whole food nutritional supplements, exercise therapy, myofascial trigger point-dry needling, and assistive devices. Dr. Carlo works closely with a certified veterinary chiropractor and acupuncturist and a talented surgeon. All of these diagnostic and therapeutic modalities are available at Avondale Veterinary Healthcare Complex and allow Dr. Carlo to help her patients feel the best they can.

Dr. Carlo is a member of the Greater Des Moines Veterinary Medical Association (GDVMA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA), the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM), and the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV). Dr. Carlo recently finished her 3 year appointment to the board of the AARV as Secretary.

Dr. Carlo can be reached at Avondale Veterinary Healthcare Complex. Please call the clinic to make an appointment at 515-262-6111, email at info@avondalevet.com, and visit Avondale’s website at www.avondalevet.com.

We are always looking to partner with professionals that share the same goals and vision in animal rehabilitation! If you are a rehabilitation professional and are interested in becoming a partner clinic, please reach out to us at info@orthopets.com!

Featured Partner Clinic: Paradise Animal Hospital (Maryland, USA)

Dr. Jennifer King grew up in Northern Virginia. She graduated from St. George’s University Vet School in 2006. She has practiced veterinary medicine in Maryland since 2008 and became certified in rehabilitation & physical therapy in 2011. She is interested in neurology, ophthalmology, feline medicine and pain management. She practiced emergency medicine and rehabilitation for 5 years before joining Paradise Animal Hospital. After recently losing her three legged Doberman named Darby, she is down to just one furry companion a cat named Lovely (named by her son). But she has a full house with her two young sons, Robert and Isaac, husband Daniel and her mother whom helps care for the boys!

The rehabilitation center at Paradise Animal Hospital has an underwater treadmill, a pool, cold laser, ultrasound, E-stim and many exercise therapy tools. The team has worked together for more than 10 years and is excited to offer custom made OrthoPets devices as an option for our clients seeking a non surgical solution for orthopedic injury in their pets as well as facilitate the recovery from complex tension injuries.

For More Information, please visit: http://www.paradiseanimalhospital.com

We are always looking to partner with professionals that share the same goals and vision in animal rehabilitation! If you are a rehabilitation professional and are interested in becoming a partner clinic, please reach out to us at info@orthopets.com!

Katie and her OrthoPets Tarsal Device (Cat ankle brace)

Katie, a 10-year-old domestic short hair, suffered from degenerative Achilles tendon changes which contributed to the rupture of her gastrocnemius and stretching of her superficial digital flexor tendon after falling off the counter last fall. She had surgery to repair the damaged tendon and to place a transcalcaneal screw to hold the joint in extension and minimize tension on the Achilles. The screw was removed 8 weeks later.

Katie then went to see OrthoPets partner, Dr. Tari Kern at Pawsitive Steps in Michigan. Cats don’t always make the best candidates for orthoses, but Dr. Kern is no stranger to working with felines. She will even walk them in the underwater treadmill, so she was up for the challenge. To reach Katie’s goal of returning to normal function, she was fitted with a pink camo tarsal paw orthosis with articulation at both the tarsus and paw and internal and external wedges. She moved well at her fitting, encouraged by moving her crate around the treatment room.

Rehab is not just for dogs. At her first follow-up visit, Katie climbed up and down stairs as well as rocked the “catalettis.” She has since advanced, and the paw shell has been removed. Dr. Kern continues to work with Katie on gait and hind limb and core strengthening.

LEFT: At her first follow-up visit, Katie rocks the “catalettis” and shows off her tarsal paw orthosis.
RIGHT: Close-up of Katie’s device