We are just at the very beginning of Noodle's Rehab. She has had two sessions of Hydrotherapy. The benefits of water are well documented in human rehabilitation literature as well as benefits of treadmill training.
We are lucky to have a facility nearby, Northshore Veterinary Hospital in Bellingham WA, that provide this exact rehab for dogs. Caitlin is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner or as I like to call her a physical therapist for animals. Her partner in crime is Haley who is completing her internship to become a "physical therapist for animals."
Noodle met both of these amazing women back in December for a rehab consult. It was determined that hydrotherapy would be a good plan of treatment. Complications of a spinal cord injury can include skin breakdown, muscle atrophy (wasting), bone mass loss, and cardiac/pulmonary deficits. Hydrotherapy treadmill training is one tool to counteract these complications.
Noodle's first aquatic therapy treatment consisted of the therapists patterning her back leg movements to create steps. When we let go of her legs and did not pattern her movements, her back legs were rather lifeless.
Noodle had a few weeks off from therapy because Kyle and I had several trips planned "pre Noodle adoption." Once we returned from those trips we returned to Northshore Veterniary Hospital for her second treatment. Still not knowing if Noodle's spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete (see Rehab Goals and Donation Blog for details) we really have no expectations of her recovery. We just know that we want her stay as healthy as possible and try for any recovery possible. That said, what we saw on just this second session of hydrotherapy surprised Kyle, myself and her two therapists.
Her back legs were patterning a gait cycle all on her own. Though the steps are not perfect and often you see double steps, she is moving her legs. This could be what is called "spinal walking" more due to an "abnormal" reflex BUT it is a change from what we saw last session. Regardless it is movement in her legs which increases her muscle mass, core strength, activity/energy output for her cardiac function and honestly just gives her a damn good workout. Here is another look.
Noodle has more therapy planned. We also have a consultation with a Veterinarian who specializes in Neurology. We will further determine and plan assessments needed to find out the extent of her spinal cord injury.
Noodle reminds Kyle and I everyday that perseverance conquers and breaths happiness into everyone around. She gives us so much joy and we hope to keep giving her a full life.