Thursday, April 2, 2009

Where are the water wings?

Jinx had her first hydro-therapy appointment today, at the Animal Referral Center in Appleton. First, being the polite patient that she is, she greeted our therapist, Andrea, with an Easter basket and a treat. Dr Bruce examined her shoulder again, and pronounced it to be very good, very solid, but yes, there is brachial nerve damage.

While Jinx and I were waiting for him in the exam room, and I had her go through her party tricks for me, I noticed that when I asked her to extend her paw to rest on my knee, the paw was curled. This is one of the signs of that damage. It reminded me of patients in comas, or with brain injuries where the hands curl inward. I inquired whether it would be helpful to massage her toes and extend them, as well as to manipulate that joint and the vet and therapist agreed that would be helpful. Another exercise is born! I've had opportunity to perform that several times today and I think this will be good, as I can feel the tension and resistance in extended the paw and toes. I have a feeling I should be placing cotton balls between her toes and painting the nails hot pink!

After our exam, we proceeded to the water room. Jinx has to stand in an enclosed tank, much like a shower stall. On the bottom is a treadmill. The water fills very rapidly, not like filling a bathtub, where the water first tickles your toes and then slowly rises. I am amazed at Jinx's adaptability and understanding, as you might imagine a dog (perhaps a less well trained one!) assuming they were about to drown and struggling to escape the enclosure. She was not cross-tied or secured in anyway, but I stood outside the enclosure on a stool so that I could pet her and give her treats and that was good enough for her to realize there was no danger. The water was raised to mid-leg, just high enough that Jinx would be required to push through it as she walked. I watched Jinx's tail raise and laughed that she wasn't thrilled about getting her "girl parts" wet, so I asked her to sit. That took additional encouragement, and, yes, a bribe, to convince her that she really wanted to sit IN the water!! Once she unconcerned about her position and being wet, we were ready to begin.

Andrea advised "ready" and the treadmill was started.

Jinx has never been on a treadmill before, so this was a new experience. What else is there to do but begin walking? If you stop, you float backwards and then have to catch up! She worked for six minutes, had a brief rest, and worked another six minutes. It was apparent that this will really assist in strenghthening her leg and in getting her to move it forward and strike the ground properly. She was extending it nicely in her push through the water but about one in six times, would knuckle. I will use that frequency to measure our progress.

We have appointments scheduled twice a week for the next two weeks, and will reevaluate at that time. I whisper once again in Jinx's ear that I feel the muscles rippling under her skin already! She offers a paw and a smile.