Veterinary Rehabilitation and Hydrotherapy

Penny Smith – femoral-head-and-neck excision (FHNE)


Penny was a 16-month-old West Highland White Terrier bitch. At eight months of age, Penny became non-weight-bearing lame on her right hind limb. Investigation revealed a congenital deformity of her right hip joint. The owners chose not to intervene at the time but decided to proceed with a femoral-head-and-neck excision (FHNE) seven months later.


Penny presented for physiotherapy assessment three weeks after her FHNE and was still completely non-weight-bearing on her right hindlimb. She had severe muscle wasting of the limb due to nearly eight months of non-use. She also had a pronounced sideways bend to her spine as a result of using her left pelvic limb like a pogo stick to get around.


On the first session we applied pulsed-electromagnetic field therapy to Penny’s right hip joint to aid healing, followed by some simple rehab interventions to encourage her to take some weight through the limb. By the end of her first treatment session, she was intermittently toe-touching with her right pelvic limb, which the owners reported she had not done in eight months. Penny’s owners were instructed to carry on some basic interventions with Penny at home between treatment sessions.

She had six sessions of physiotherapy (including the initial assessment) and improved with each visit. By the final session, she placed the right hind limb appropriately when wandering around at a steady pace, only picking it up when making a dash somewhere. When she had her first session on the treadmill she was fully weight-bearing through her right hind limb for the 10-minute duration. Two days later she came back for a further session and managed 15 minutes on the treadmill at varying speeds and with an added incline to aid muscle development of her hindquarters. Treadmill training continued with increased duration, incline and speed to retrain Penny to use the limb at a faster pace.


As a result of Penny’s improved use of her hind leg, her spinal bend corrected itself.

At the end of July, Penny emigrated to Australia with her owners. They were desperate to “fix” her prior to the journey and were delighted with her progress.

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