Treadmill Hydrotherapy Training

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.

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King 5, New Day NW Show

Several weeks ago we were asked to appear with the Everett Animal Shelter on King 5 New Day NW show. They had been covering and following Noodle since being at Everett Animal Shelter. Kyle and I were petrified but Noodle was ready to roll, literally!

We arrived in Seattle Monday morning to the studio. A sweet man opened the side door for Noodle since she couldn't go through the revolving door and gave a warm greeting to our little Noodster.

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We were met by several staff members and producers for the show who prepped us for the show. While waiting for our turn on the set, multiple King 5 staff members would come out of the elevator and say "Where is Noodle? We heard she is here and came down to meet her."

We were escorted onto the set after some face powdering, mic attachment and instructions to not look at all the cameras and video. Margaret joined us on the couch chatting casually. Mid conversation the audience started clapping. Kyle and I must have looked at Margaret with huge, fearful eyes because she said "yep here we go..."

Noodle was more interested in the smells of the carpet than the people and cameras. We were given a great opportunity to talk about Noodle and the reasons we adopted her. 

Of course after the show this got me to thinking about one of Margaret's questions, "Why Noodle? What made you want to adopt her?" Kyle and I work with people who face mobility challenges, small and large. People's morale, motivation and hopes vary and can waver significantly. When we met Noodle, we saw a soul that despite her mobility difficulties, her morale, motivation and lease on life stays unwaveringly positive. Is this not the beauty of dogs? We think we are rescuing an animal but in reality they rescue us. We hope one day to use Noodle in therapy sessions to encourage people.

Noodle had an opportunity to meet one of my patients recently. I was nervous about how an individual would take to an animal with similar disabilities. The moment was perfect though. Animals can inspire and encourage us in so many ways. We hope Noodle continues to have opportunities to meet people and audiences. She has the power to encourage humans in ways that only an innocent animal can.

If you have a moment, watch Noodle's news clip:

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Skin Integrity and Spinal Cord Injuries

Skin is our largest organ and its the same for dogs. One major concern with spinal cord injuries is skin integrity. Studies show that for humans with spinal cord injuries the incidence of developing pressure ulcers can be  from 25-66% (1,2). Pressure ulcers are a dangerous complication of spinal cord injuries. Due to the lack of protective sensation, decreased ability to relieve pressure by moving or shifting weight and the atrophying/reduction of muscle mass, these horrible sores can form unbenownst to the individual.

For Noodle we are watching her mobility habits and monitoring her skin closely. When out of her scooter she "drags" her back legs behind her. She tends to move with her legs in a position we call "right windswept" meaning she keeps her back legs "swept" to the right. This increases the pressure and friction on her left outside paw and right inside paw. We are using protective creams and booties to her feet, vary her time between "dragging" vs using her scooter and try to provide padded surfaces for her to roam around the house. Another method we are using to vary her pressure is called a drag bag from a company called Walkin Pets. Here is the link: https://www.handicappedpets.com/walkin-drag-bag

One unique problem we have found that varies from humans is that Noodle doesn't understand that her back legs are hers. Combine that with being a puppy and wanting to chew... constantly chew. So yep you guessed it, she likes to chew her back legs. From what we can assess she does not have sensation for light touch or pain in her hindquarters. We have to keep her from chewing her back legs which could easily lead to a wound.

Other important methods of pressure ulcer prevention for humans that we will utilize for Noodle are: 

  • Good nutrition including hydration
  • Joint range of motion
  • Frequent skin checks
  • Regular exercise to maintain healthy joints and cardiovascular system
  • Skin hygiene 

Like any dog, Noodle comes with her unique challenges. With love, good care and frequent observations of her habits and routine we hope to keep her healthy and happy for a long time.

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This is a good representation of Noodle's preferred posture demonstrating her right windswept back legs.

1. Fuhrer MJ, Garber SL, Rintala DH, Clearman R, Hart KA. Pressure ulcers in community-resident persons with spinal cord injury: prevalence and risk factors. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1993;74(11):1172–7

2. Regan MA, Teasell RW, Wolfe DL, Keast D, Mortenson WB, Aubut JA. A systematic review of therapeutic interventions for pressure ulcers after spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil2009;90(2):213–31

Rehab Goals and Donations

Noodle is settling in over the last month. We are getting into a rhythm of her care at home which includes plenty of walks, tug of war and "scootin". One of our main goals was to provide Noodle with every opportunity to rehabilitate and/or compensate for her impairments to live a full life every dog deserves.

As physical therapists we knew our options for recovery would be limited when we adopted her with the diagnosis of a spinal cord injruy (SCI). She has not yet recieved a spinal MRI which would solidify if her spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete. Just like humans, if the injury is "complete" our rehab goals would be compensatory strategies to help her be happy, have fun doing dog things, and most importantly stay healthy. 

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Working on learning exercises to do to help with muscle mass, joint health and functional mobility.

If her spinal cord injury is incomplete, then there is a chance at some recovery and functional rehabilitation. We would continue to push her therapy in a recovery mode to hopefully ambulate/walk again without the help of her scooter.

We have recently meet with Caitlin at Northshore Veterinary Hospital in Bellingham, Wa. She is a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner aka a physical therapist for animals. She taught us so much about what to do for Noodle with regards to muscle mass, range of motion and assistive devices. We hope to continue working with Caitlin and her student Hailey for assistance as Noodle grows big and strong.

We have started a Go Fund Me Account with the initial goal of obtaining an MRI which can cost in the thousands.  Any donations, shares of the page, and good thoughts are so appreciated. Follow the menu to "Donations" to view her Go Fund Me account. We will be making donations back to the Everett Animal Shelter that first rescued Noodle.

 

Happy New Year

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Noodle has been with our family only 3 short weeks. We are ringing in 2018 with the dogs and friends today. Here are 10 things Noodle we has learned Noodle and she has taught us...

10. She is all puppy. Chew, chew, play, chew, sleep.

9. She loves food. Its her heaven.

8. She snores. Loudly!

7. If she twitches those back legs she either needs to go number 1 or 2...STAT!

6. She does not like the cold.

5. Sampson's beard is great for biting.

4. She can already find her home when out for a walk.

3. Sleeping next to our bed is WAY better than sleeping in a crate

2. Meeting new friends is her Jam!

1. Paralyzed legs or not, life is worth living every moment.

HAPPY 2018!

The Beginnings

After losing our first dog together over the summer we had no intention of getting another. We were planning to let Sampson live his life as an old dog BUT we did not take into account the "harmless" scrolling of Facebook pages. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to the Everett Animal Shelter here in Washington state that showed a video of the cutest puppy. Halfway through the video it becomes evident that she is paralyzed in her back legs. My husband, Kyle, and I immediately and simultaneously give each other that look.

The next day we were on our way to the animal shelter. Noodle was not yet available for adoption and discovered she was quite popular due to the power of social media. I stayed in contact with the shelter over the next week as well as doing endless online research about paralyzed dogs. Come to find out there are a lot of puppies that live full happy lives with paralysis. I researched what caring for a dog with this type of special need might entail. Noodle became adoptable and we immediately placed an application.

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We were surpised to get a call back one week later. We honestly did not think we would be chosen to meet this inspiring pup. On the drive to Everett from our home in Mount Vernon, Wa, my husband was giving me a pep talk. "Bree, all puppies are cute. When we meet her, we have to keep our emotions in check and make sure we can truly provide for her the way she needs." My husband was fearful he would be allergic to her and that I would cry the whole way home. Kim, at the shelter, placed Noodle down on the floor in the room we were to meet her and immedaitely Kyle goes "Oh my god she is so cute!" Yep we both were definitely keeping our emotions in check. After ensuring Kyle was not allergic we confirmed with the shelter our desire to adopt her.

Two days later on December 11th 2017, we picked her up and brought her home. Our journey continues...

Of addition, I cannot speak more strongly about the kind people at the Everett Animal Shelter in Everett, Wa. especially Kim, Brittany and Brandi. Thank you!