Veterinary Rehabilitation and Hydrotherapy

Guv Lovegrove – scapula-humeral joint medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain

History

Guv was a four-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie dog whose sport was competitive agility. His owner noted that he was moderately lame after landing jumps and turning left, and favoured turning to the right and taking jumps with a right-side lean. Furthermore, the owner noted that competition times had started to gradually increase for no obvious reason.

Guv was seen by a vet and diagnosed with a moderate right scapula-humeral joint medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain. Treatment was a surgical arthroscopy procedure.

Assessment

When Guv first came to Kennel & Paddock, he routinely attempted to reduce the time spent on the right forelimb and minimise the stress placed on his hind limb whilst walking.

Treatment

Cryotherapy (ice packs and ice massage) was used for the first four days following surgery. Compression bandages helped reduce the inflammation process. Electrotherapy was used to relieve pain and inflammation, with hydrotherapy to maintain cardiovascular fitness through non-weight-bearing activity. In addition, Guv performed land-based exercises, and as his condition improved, resistance (with cuff and band weights) was added. Passive exercises helped him regain his pre-injury range of motion.

Sport-specific functional progression exercises were then introduced. Because Guv was an agility dog, weaves and figures-of-eight were used, together with work on uphill and downhill slopes. He progressed to exercises on uneven surfaces and balance-adjusting equipment, which improved his balance and proprioception. These sport-specific exercises also improved Guv’s confidence in using the injured limb.

The Kennel & Paddock physiotherapist continued to evaluate movement patterns. Guv’s accurate execution and repetition of patterned movements became less difficult, requiring less concentration, and resulting in the movement becoming automatic.

We gave Guv additional strengthening and endurance exercises, using the land-based treadmill and hydrotherapy pool. In the pool, he was encouraged to perform sport-specific movements (excessive twisting/turning and spinning), with increasing speed.

Outcome

By the end of his treatment at Kennel & Paddock, Guv had no pain or swelling in his right shoulder. Using pressure-mat testing to verify a sound gait pattern, and sport-specific functional activities to more subjectively assess him, he was deemed fit to return to competitive activity.

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