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Case Study: Schatze – A Non-Surgical Patient with an Achilles Tendon Rupture

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Schatze, a 50-pound, 12-year-old Catahoula with a mid-body Achilles Tendon rupture.

Case of Interest: Schatze was a non-surgical candidate in need of support for her left hock due to an Achilles Tendon rupture.  She was initially seen at our clinic in December of 2017 and returns for regular check-ups almost two years later.  Most of our in-house patients visit our clinic three or four times over the course of a year.  In Schatze’s case, we’ve been able to watch her mature over seven appointments and look forward to providing her with care for years to come.

Diagnostic History: Schatze ruptured her left Achilles tendon while jumping into a car on December 5, 2017. She was seen shortly afterwards by an orthopedic veterinarian and was diagnosed with a mid-body calcaneal tendon rupture. She was not a surgical candidate due to being on prednisone for a low platelet abnormality. A wait-and-see approach was followed but she showed no signs of improvement even after stopping the medication. 

It was determined that she would benefit from a custom-made hock brace. The goal of the brace was to reduce any further damage to the calcaneal tendon or the digital flexor tendon, as well as to protect the skin from excessive pressure while walking in a plantigrade stance.

Schatze presented to our clinic on December 29, 2017, limping on her left hind leg. She was collapsing in her hock and in a plantigrade stance. She was contracting her digits on her left hind leg, indicating the superficial digital flexor tendon was still intact.

A cast was made of Schatze’s hind left leg from the distal ends of the nails up to the stifle.  From the cast, a jointed hock brace providing zero degrees of flexion at the joint was fabricated.  The degree of flexion was controlled by range of motion straps affixed to the back outer shell of the brace.  As healing occurred and strength returned, the range of motion straps could be lengthened to allow for greater flexion at the joint.

Less than a week after her casting, she returned for her delivery appointment. At this appointment, the fit of the brace was assessed and appropriate adjustments were performed. Once the brace was donned, Schatze walked with an exaggerated step and consistently put her foot down with more force than necessary.  Her walk normalized as she became accustomed to the brace.

Schatze’s owner was instructed on the proper care of the brace and that Schatze was to wear the brace during her waking hours, but not at night. No exercise restrictions were given, but it was recommended that she begin with 2-3 walks a day for around 10-15 minutes each to allow her to become familiar with the brace as well as to build up the muscle that atrophied during the months she favored the leg.

Follow- Ups: Schatze returned for follow-up appointments approximately 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 1.5 years from delivery. At each appointment the condition of Schatze’s skin and the overall leg were assessed. Appropriate adjustments and general maintenance were made to the brace such as replacing the sole of the brace.

Her walk continued to improve at each appointment as she became comfortable and confident in the brace. She was able to run and play in the brace. Schatze received a favorable report from her orthopedic vet when she followed up with them after receipt of the brace. Schatze continues to use the brace for her daily activities and is a happy and active girl.

What Happens During An Evaluation Appointment At My Pet’s Brace?

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

Frequently, owners express concern about the evaluation appointment for their dog’s leg brace. Many fear that we aLeg Casting During Evaluation Appointmentre going to manipulate the dog’s leg and cause pain, or that they will not be able to remain with their pet. Neither of those thoughts are true. So, let me explain what happens during the evaluation appointment.

The first thing needed for the appointment is a written diagnosis from your vet or rehab professional telling us about your dog’s injury. Since we are not veterinarians, we need to know the exact diagnosis so that we can be sure we are making the correct leg brace for your dog’s injury.

Next, you and your dog will be taken into an exam room where you will meet with the clinician. After taking time to review the information from your vet and meeting you and your dog, the clinician will ask several questions regarding your dog’s living arrangements, time spent inside vs outside, activity level, and any other pets in the household. The clinician will discuss your dog’s injury and observe your dog walking up and down the hallway several times. The clinician may feel your dog’s leg to check for any swelling or discomfort. We may bend your dog’s leg, in a normal flexing motion, to listen for any type of clicking or popping sounds. This will not hurt the dog. If the dog shows any type of discomfort with this flexion, the clinician will stop.

Once the clinician has gathered all the information, we will explain what is going on in your dog’s leg and how and why the brace will help. You will have ample opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Sometimes, the clinician has the unfortunate task of telling the client that the brace is not the correct solution for the dog’s injury. Rest assured that if we do not feel a brace is appropriate for your pet, we will be honest and let you know that. If that occurs, there is no charge for the evaluation appointment.

After explaining your dog’s injury and how and why the brace will help and making sure you want to move forward with the brace, the clinician will make a cast of your dog’s leg. You will be with your dog the entire time, helping to keep them calm. Someone will support your dog under their belly, so they are comfortable while the clinician does the casting. The casting process takes less than 5 minutes and is completely painless and non-invasive for the dog. The toughest thing your dog will need to do is stand there, with support of course. After casting, the clinician will take measurements of your dog’s leg. If your dog is getting a hock or carpal brace, the clinician will make a tracing of your dog’s paw.

Once the cast is complete and the owner has no further questions, payment will be handled at the front desk. All braces must be paid in full before the brace goes into production.  We accept all credit cards, cash, check and Care Credit.

Our goal during the evaluation, or any of our appointments, is to provide a warm, friendly atmosphere for both the dog and owner. We want to answer all your questions and alleviate any concerns you may have regarding the brace and your dog.

Case Study: Kirahime – a Doberman with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Kirahime, a 90-pound, 6-year-old Doberman with a CCL tear in her left hind leg.

Case of Interest: Our stifle braces aid in the healing of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tears by stabilizing the stifle and controlling the forward thrust of the tibia. This healing process occurs within 9 months with the application of a custom stifle brace. After this time period, the dog may continue to wear the brace for extra support during more strenuous activities or inclement weather.  Kirahime is a strong energetic dog who returned to full activity with the help of her stifle brace.  Over two years after her initial injury and brace fitting, Kirahime occasionally uses the brace during highly active times.

Diagnostic History: In 2016, Kirahime jumped up several stairs and started favoring her left hind leg. She rested for 7 months and returned to normal weight-bearing.  She reinjured her left hind leg in December of 2016 running after a squirrel. She was seen by a veterinarian in March 2017 and was diagnosed with a partial tear of her left CCL and mild Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The owner determined that they were not interested in surgery for a variety of reasons and thus decided to pursue conservative management of a custom stifle brace.

Kirahime presented to our clinic for a left stifle brace to assist in the healing of a partial CCL rupture. An evaluation of Kirahime’s body condition and lifestyle was performed and it was determined that she would benefit from a left stifle brace. An accurate cast was taken of her leg from hip to hock using fiberglass casting tape. A brace was constructed using the cast that was taken. This process involves filling the cast with plaster, modification of the mold, vacuum-forming of the co-polymer plastic onto the mold, machining the brace to the correct shape and the addition of buckles, straps and veterinary urethane and nylon stifle joints.  A week after the evaluation, Kirahime was fitted with her brace and the brace was adjusted for a proper and comfortable fit.

Kirahime was given a restricted exercise program, which included 2 or 3 leashed walks a day at around 10 to 15 minutes each.  No running, dog or ball playing.  Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 steps and if more than 4 were required then some help in the form of a sling under the hips or blocking off the area was suggested.  This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow for the formation of scar tissue. After that time, she was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.

Follow-Ups: Kirahime was seen approximately 1 month, 3 months, 5 months, 8 months, 1 year, and a year and a half post-delivery. At each check-up appointment her walking was assessed and it was noted that she was doing well.  Her weight-bearing and muscle mass on her inured left leg increased to normal. Kirahime’s owner said, “Kirahime and I cannot thank you all enough for giving me back my insane girl! No limping or “toe touching” at all and we’re 5 mile off-lead hiking every day again! Not bad for a 7 year Doberman who had a partial tear.”

Why Do We Need A Diagnosis?

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

“Thank you for calling My Pet’s Brace. How can I help you?”

“My dog is limping on his hind leg and needs a brace,” replies the caller.

“Sure, I can help you with that. What is your dog’s injury? What is the diagnosis from your vet?”

“Oh, I didn’t take him to the vet. He’s just limping so I want a brace. Can you make one for him?”

“Sure, we can make a brace but in order the make the correct type of brace we need to know what your dog’s injury is.  It is important the dog see the vet so that we know what is causing the limp.”

“Oh, he’s had this limp for a while. It gets better then it gets worse. I had another dog that had a cruciate ligament injury, and he’s acting the same way. I see no reason to take him to the vet because I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing.”

Unfortunately, the above conversation happens all too often. While we can guess from the conversation and our experience that this dog probably has a torn cruciate ligament in his knee, we cannot nor should we make that assumption. Although our owner is a board-certified prosthetist orthotist which means he has lots of medical knowledge and experience, and our clinicians have bio-medical engineering backgrounds, they are not veterinarians and legally cannot make a diagnosis.

There could be many problems causing this dog to limp and some may not even originate in the knee. For example, the dog may have a problem in his hock for which we could make a brace, but it is an entirely different type of brace than one we would make for a problem in the knee. Maybe the dog has a problem in his hip, such as hip dysplasia, for which we have no type of brace. The dog may have some type of neurological problem for which braces usually do not help. As you can see, getting the correct diagnosis is very important.

Veterinarians go to school for many years in order to learn how to evaluate and differentiate among the countless problems that they see in pets daily. Whether we are talking about your pet’s front or back legs, knees, hocks, carpals, or elbows, getting the correct diagnosis is imperative and required for us to make the most appropriate brace for your pet. Sometimes, in conjunction with the diagnosis we also need x-rays and, if that is necessary, we would let you know. For example, if we are seeing a dog for a prosthetic device or fracture, x-rays may be helpful.

We are here to provide your pet with the best solution for their orthopedic problem and to do that we need to have the proper diagnosis, in writing, from your vet.

Case Study: Hector – A Rescue Dog From Kuwait With Nerve Damage And An Ulcer On His Elbow

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Hector, a 2-year-old desert dog mix with severe carpal hyperextension and an ulcer on his olecranon (elbow).

Case of Interest: A local rescue organization with international ties learned of and adopted Hector from Kuwait.  Hector was severely collapsed on both of his front legs and walked on his elbows.  In Kuwait, he underwent surgery to repair a fractured radius and ulna in his right front leg.  He also sustained nerve damage in his left front leg and had an open ulcer on his olecranon.  When he was brought to the States, his left front leg was in a cast for several months to support the carpus and reduce the pressure on the ulcer on his elbow.  For a long-term solution, My Pet’s Brace recommended a brace to bring Hector into a more functional standing and walking position as well as to protect his olecranon and allow the open ulcer to heal.

Diagnostic History: Hector was seen at the My Pet’s Brace facility for the casting of his leg in March 2019 for a carpal brace.  The brace would replace the splint he was in for many months, stabilize his hyperextension and aid in the healing of the ulcer on his elbow. The brace was fitted to Hector and adjustments were made to ensure a proper and comfortable fit.

The carpal brace for Hector was made with an additional foam wedge affixed to the top outside of the brace.  The brace supports Hector’s leg in a more functional position and the added wedge lifts his leg off the ground when he lays down which allows air circulation and furthered the healing for the ulcer.

Hector was informed to begin wearing the brace for two hours the first day and increase an hour each day until he wore it during his active waking hours.  Hector’s activity and exercise were limited in the beginning of the break-in period until he became comfortable and the ulcer on his elbow healed.

Follow-Ups: Hector was seen two weeks, one and half months, and four and a half months post-delivery. During each of these appointments Hector’s skin was assessed and his overall comfort with the brace was examined. Adjustments and general upkeep were made accordingly.  As of his last appointment in August 2019, the ulcer on Hector’s elbow is fully healed and he is getting stronger every day.  Hector was also adopted by his forever family and is happily living life in his new home.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, What Color Brace Shall I Do?

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

While getting a leg brace for your dog is very serious, believe it or not, it does have a lighter side – choosing a brace color. For some people it is very easy, for others it requires much thought and sometimes, a family pow-pow. The good part is, we have 35 different colors and patterns from which to choose.

Some people prefer that no one notices the brace and want it to blend as nearly as possible with the dog’s coat. For those people, a solid color closely matching the dog’s coat color works well. You even can take it a step further and choose one of our patterns that looks like dog hair (but without the shedding).

Other folks feel that since the dog must wear a brace, making it fun is the way to go. For those people we have every solid color to fit the ROY G BIV mnemonic code plus white, black, brown, silver and tan.  Our most popular brace color is hot pink.

For those adventurous folks, we have various patterns that can be fused to the brace to really spice up the appearance. The hunter in the family may want the camouflage pattern; the kids, the shark or graffiti design. The star gazer may look to the cosmos or starry nights pattern; the sophisticate may lean toward the carbon fiber design; while the fashion conscience may opt for the cheetah or zebra print. Finally, for those that like abstracts the yellow/orange or blue swirl may be the way to go.

Regardless of the color or pattern chosen, rest assured that the brace will be durable and easy to maintain. Water will never harm the color or patterns and all braces are completely waterproof and easy to clean with anti-bacterial soap and water. Dog braces can even be worn in the pool or during hydrotherapy with no ill effects.

As we like to remind owners, braces work the same no matter what color or pattern is chosen. The important point is that while we enjoy providing fun color choices, our first and foremost goal is to make the most comfortable, effective, and functional brace to help your dog with their orthopedic condition and to help them to live happier lives.

Case Study: Rockne – a Golden Retriever with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Katie Mirobelli, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner from Pittsburgh location

The Patient: Rockne, a 67 pound 11.5-year-old Golden Retriever with a CCL tear in her left hind leg

Case of Interest: Rockne was the inaugural patient for the My Pet’s Brace – Pittsburgh location. Rockne is an 11.5-year-old Golden Retriever who presented with a full tear of her left CCL.

Diagnostic History: Rockne presented to her veterinarian in October of 2018 for lameness on her left hind leg after chasing a squirrel in her backyard. The veterinarian diagnosed Rockne with a cruciate ligament tear. Surgery was discussed, but due to her age and concerns about anesthetic risk, Rockne’s owners opted to look into conservative treatment options for Rockne’s injury and made an appointment at My Pet’s Brace Pittsburgh.

Upon evaluation for a brace, Rockne was bright and responsive, with a pronounced limp of the left hind leg. An evaluation of Rockne’s physical condition and lifestyle was performed, and it was decided that she would benefit from a stifle brace. An accurate cast was taken of her leg from hip to hock. A brace was constructed using this cast. The brace was made with medical-grade plastic and veterinary urethane knee joints. Two weeks after the evaluation, Rockne was fitted with his brace and adjustments were made as needed.

Rockne was placed on a restricted exercise regimen, which included no running, dog or ball playing. Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 and if more than 4 were required than some help in the form of a sling under the hips was suggested. Leashed walks or walks in a restricted area were encouraged but limited to 2 or 3 walks a day at around 10 to 20 minutes each walk. These walks could be increased as her healing progressed. This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow time for healing. Afterwards she was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.

Follow Up: Rockne was seen 3 weeks and again at 5 months after receiving her brace. Rockne adjusted quickly to using the brace, and she and her owners were happy to have her mobile again. Rockne’s primary form of exercise were calm walks around her neighborhood. When walks weren’t an option due to weather or schedule, Rockne’s owners would play a calm game of “fetch” by rolling a frisbee slowly across the room for Rockne to walk after and retrieve. At her 5 month appointment, Rockne’s gait was markedly improved and she was able to be more active and to begin to use stairs if desired (squirrel chasing was still discouraged however). As of July 2019, Rockne is 12.5 years old and walking well. Though she is starting to slow down a bit with age, she still enjoys the occasional game of fetch, her walks and saying hello to her many friends. She is able to start weaning off the brace, though she generally still wears it for most of the day.

When Are X-Rays Needed To Make A Dog Brace?

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

When a dog incurs an injury, sometimes x-rays are taken to get the “inside” scoop on exactly what’s going on with that injury.  Does that mean that we need to see x-rays to make a leg brace for your dog? Well, it depends on the injury.

If your dog has a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL/ACL) injury, the injured ligament will not show up on x-rays. However, your vet may take X-rays of the knee because they want to rule out other possibilities. They may be looking to see if your dog has arthritis, a tumor or cancer. Once they see that there is nothing else lurking in your dog’s knee and they have gotten a positive result on what is called a “drawer test” on your dog’s leg, they can feel comfortable diagnosing your dog with a CCL injury.

Braces can often be used to help dogs that suffer from arthritis. These can be stifle, carpal, hock, or elbow braces since arthritis can occur in any joint. In that case, we would want to see X-rays to determine the location of the arthritis and if a brace would be an appropriate solution.

Carpal, hock, and elbow braces for dogs can be used for a variety of issues – everything from hyperextension to elbow dysplasia and many conditions in between. If we feel X-rays are needed, we will request that x-rays be provided to us before or at the time of the initial consultation.

Many times, owners contact us because their dog has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer than often leads to spontaneous fractures. Then x-rays are very important to determine the exact location and involvement of the cancer. Frequently, we can provide a brace which is created with a front and back piece so the brace acts like a splint to help prevent or prolong the possibility of a fracture yet can be easily removed to care for the leg.

Rest assured, if we feel x-rays are required, we will request that they be provided so that we can be sure to make the best and most appropriate brace for your dog’s injury.

 

Case Study: Purdy – a Golden Retriever with Bilateral Rear Prostheses

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Purdy, a 45-pound Golden Retriever with missing rear paws.

Case of Interest:  Purdy suffered from frostbite on both of her rear paws when she was around 1 week old and both of her paws were amputated.  At 8 weeks old, she was rescued and her new family provided her with all the love and medical care she needed.  Besides the missing rear paws, she was a happy healthy puppy.

As she grew, she put almost all of her weight on her front legs to walk which caused severe kyphosis.  The distal ends of her limbs had abrasions and callousing of the skin due to her walking on them without any protection.  She put some weight on her right rear leg, but her left appeared to cause her more pain, possibly from scar tissue adhered to the bone.

Purdy visited My Pet’s Brace for two protheses to protect her rear residual limbs and to provide her with greater mobility.  She was evaluated at our facility when she was 5 ½ months old and two prosthetic devices were fabricated.  A new design of prostheses were made when she was around two years of age.  She also attended physical therapy sessions to help desensitize the ends of her stumps and to walk with proper alignment.

Diagnostic History:  Purdy visited our facility to be evaluated for prosthetic devices.  Two prostheses were created and fitted in August of 2016, when Purdy was approximately 6 months old.  Adjustments were made to the prostheses to relieve any excess pressure and reduce the chance for rubbing and sores. Purdy’s owners were instructed to allow her to wear the devices for 30 minutes the first day and increase by 30 minutes each day, for a total of 6 – 8 hours per day. She was given no restrictions with regards to play and exercise but was encouraged to go out for short walks a few times a day.  With time, she learned to bear more weight on her rear legs, which reduced the stress on her front limbs and allowed her to flatten out her spine.

In February of 2017, when Purdy was approximately 2 years old, a second set of prostheses were fitted.  The new design was non-jointed at the hock, wrapped farther up the stumps of her legs and fabricated with a more flexible plastic for the outer shell.  Purdy never took to the new prostheses even though no pressure points or fit issues were detected.  She continues to wear her original devices to this day.

Follow-Ups:  Purdy returns every six months to My Pet’s Brace for follow-up appointments. At each of these appointments the condition of her skin and her activity level are assessed and the prostheses are adjusted accordingly. An adjustment that has been made several times was the replacement of the soles as they wear down due to her activity level.

Purdy is a very happy active dog and her prostheses enable her to use all four of her legs to walk, run and play with her human and doggie family.  She enjoys lots of love and going to the beach with her siblings, but she prefers to stay on the sand and out of the water.

To Shave Or Not To Shave (The Dog’s Leg)

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

Owners frequently ask us if their dog’s leg needs to be shaved for the casting process or to wear a brace/prosthesis. The good news is that no, you do not, and there are several good reasons for that.

The first reason is that we are in favor of anything that reduces stress for the dog. For many dogs, shaving the leg is stressful and upsetting and if there is any way we can avoid stressing our patients, we will. The skin on the leg can also get irritated from shaving and we don’t want to do anything that causes more irritation to an already injured leg.

The second reason is that we have learned how to work with hairy dogs, and the hair does not get in the way. When casting a dog’s leg, the leg is first covered with a stockinette (a thin sock-like material). This compresses the hair on the leg. For those hairier dogs, such as Golden Retrievers or Newfoundlands, as much of the hair as possible is gathered inside the stockinette. This helps the casting process by keeping most of the excess hair out of the way as the cast is taken. The fiberglass tape is wrapped snuggly around the leg, thereby compressing the hair even more, helping to ensure a good cast is taken and, subsequently, a well-fitting brace is made.

Finally, when the dog is wearing the brace that extra hair under the brace acts as a nice protective cover. This helps to reduce possible irritation as the hair provides additional cushioning.

Sometimes owners will comment that all that extra hair gets caught in the Velcro straps and makes putting the brace on more difficult. In that case, owners may choose to use scissors to trim away some of the excess hair. That’s perfectly fine and will not affect the fit of the brace.

Our ultimate goal is to make the casting and bracing process as pleasant and stress free as possible for not only the patient, but also the owner. If an owner wishes to trim excess hair to make putting the brace on easier, that’s fine, but from our point-of-view the dog’s hair is a benefit and shaving the leg is not needed.

Case Study: Bentley – a Doberman with a CCL Tear

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Bentley, an 86-pound 7-year-old Doberman with a CCL tear in his right hind leg

Case of Interest: Bentley is an example of a typical patient that would be seen at our clinic. Bentley is an 86-pound 7-year-old Doberman. Bentley presented with a partial tear of his right CCL. Surgery was performed on Bentley’s left CCL three years earlier.

Diagnostic History: In 2015, Bentley injured his left CCL and underwent TTA surgery to repair the ligament. When Bentley injured his right CCL three years later, his owner decided to go the conservative management route of a brace versus surgery due to heart issues that had developed after the original surgery.

Bentley presented to our clinic in July of 2018 for a stifle brace for his right hind leg to aid in the healing of the rupture of his CCL. An evaluation of Bentley’s body condition and lifestyle was performed, and it was determined that he would benefit from a right rear stifle brace. An accurate cast was taken of his leg from hip to hock. A brace was constructed using the cast. The brace was made with medical-grade plastic and veterinary urethane knee joints. A week after the evaluation Bentley was fitted with his brace and adjustments were made as needed.

Bentley was given a restricted exercise regiment, which included no running, dog or ball playing. Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 and if more than 4 were required than some help in the form of a sling under the hips was suggested. Leashed walks or walks in a restricted area were encouraged but limited to 2 or 3 walks a day at around 10 to 15 minutes each walk. These walks could be increased as his healing progressed. This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow time for healing. Afterwards he was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.

Follow-Ups: Bentley was seen at approximately three weeks, three months and four month post-delivery. At each check-up appointment his weight-bearing and walking were assessed and it was noted that he was doing well. Adjustments and maintenance were performed at each appointment. Bentley’s owners discontinued use of the brace after nine months. Bentley’s weight bearing increased and muscle mass returned to normal. Bentley’s owners were also instructed to continue to use the brace if the dog will undergo unusual strenuous activity or will experience unstable footing such as during winter snow/ice or on sand.  Now he enjoys playtime with his doggie sibling brace free.

Sam Gets A Stifle Brace, Part 2 – The Fitting

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

My name is Sam and I’m the four-year old Labrador Pit Bull mix that you met last month when I told you about having a cast made at My Pet’s Brace. This time I want to tell you about my experience getting the brace.

About seven days after my first visit to My Pet’s Brace, Mom took me back to get the brace.  I was excited when we arrived. Everyone was very friendly and came over to greet me. I wasn’t so scared this time; I remembered that no one hurt me. We were showed to a room and the same lady from last time chatted with Mom and gave me water and lots of pets.

A few minutes later, the man who made the cast of my leg came into the room. He was carrying this very funny looking thing in his hand called a brace. I thought maybe it was something to eat or play with. I sniffed it and it wasn’t anything to eat (darn!) so I tried to mouth it. The man said, “No”, and moved the thing away so I couldn’t bite it. I walked up to it again and sniffed it. It was boring so I just laid down.

The man spent a lot of time talking to Mom and pointing at different items on the brace. He removed something called a suspension sleeve from the brace and said he was going to place it around my hock. He did that while I was lying down and it didn’t hurt at all. I just watched him and wagged my tail a few times. Then he put the brace on my leg. He positioned it high up on my leg and pressed the bottom of the brace onto the suspension sleeve. He continued to explain things to Mom and tightened the straps around my leg. When he finished, he said we were going to walk up and down the hallway. Yeah, right!

When I first stood up, I thought, What the heck? and looked at the brace on my leg. Trying to walk was strange at first. I kept kicking my leg out thinking I could get it off, but that brace followed me everywhere I went. Then I tried to walk fast so I didn’t have to put my leg down, but Mom started walking me very slowly and I had no choice but to use both of my rear legs. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want my leg to hurt. Finally, I put my injured leg down and I was really surprised to find it felt a little better.

After the man watched me walk, he told Mom the brace was a little high in the groin and he was going to trim it so that it would be more comfortable. When he returned a few minutes later, he put the brace on me again and it did feel better. Then Mom got to practice putting the brace on me. It took her longer than it took the man and she fumbled a bit. The man told her not to worry; after a few times she would find putting the brace on just as easy. He then put white lines on the straps of the brace and told Mom those lines would tell her how tightly to pull the straps.

I got to practice walking again. That was the best part because of all the great dog smells in the hallway. I could tell who was there before me… a big male Rottweiler, a male Maltese, and a female Sheltie. I wondered, Is she still in the building?  I was so busy sniffing that I forgot about the brace and before I knew it, I was using my injured leg! It was great to be using four legs again. Well, I wasn’t completely using my sore leg but at least it felt better, and I wasn’t so off-balance any more.

Mom had some more questions and the man patiently answered all of them. He gave Mom a wearing schedule and explained that I had to get acclimated to the brace. I would start by wearing the brace a few hours the first day, increasing my wearing time daily until I was wearing the brace full-time. I got a break from wearing the brace at night when I was sleeping because I didn’t need to wear it then.  I wouldn’t be allowed to run and play just yet, but they said I would be able to soon!

Finally, we were finished and went out to the front desk. The lady at the desk went over paperwork with Mom and schedule a re-check appointment in three weeks. I got treats, again. That was one of my favorite parts, and the pets too. Then I posed for a picture. I hope they got my good side. I wonder if I’ll be another Lassie?

Case Study: Nya – a Shepherd mix with a Carpal Brace Post Fixator Surgery

By: Clayton Blunk, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Nya, a five-year-old, 50-pound, Shepherd mix that was hit by a car.

Case of Interest: Over 80% of our business is providing stifle braces for Cranial Cruciate Ligament injuries. However, we also fabricate carpal, hock and elbow braces for multiple etiologies. In special cases, we are brought onto a case in collaboration with orthopedic specialists for a non-standard brace.

Nya was hit by a car in mid-2018. After being stabilized by an emergency department in Maryland, the initial prognosis was that Nya would not be able to save both of her forelimbs. She was transferred to the University of Pennsylvania to attempt to save her legs. My Pet’s Brace become involved in the case at the end of December 2018 to make a special carpal support brace.

Diagnostic History: In mid 2018, Nya was hit by a car. Eventually, after multiple procedures, her right forelimb needed to be placed in an external fixator. In December, the fixator was removed. Diagnostic imaging after the fixator was removed showed promising stability, but there were still considerable open wounds that needed managing and protecting. While Nya was still sedated, her condition was evaluated and her medical team at University of Pennsylvania determined that she would benefit from a carpal brace.

Nya presented to My Pet’s Brace limping and in a splint.  We made a cast of Nya’s forelimb from the paw to just distal to the olecranon. This cast was then used to create a custom-made, non-jointed carpal brace. This brace was made with a closed-cell foam interior and a hard-medical grade plastic exterior. Special consideration was given to the bony areas where the pins from the fixator were located. It was important to unload those areas to allow them to heal. Additionally, Nya did not have a normal weight-bearing surface because of the position her limb was fixed. Nya’s brace was designed to have extra padding to prevent excessive pressure on her toes as well as widen the base of support for her paw.

Follow-Ups: Nya was seen approximately 1 month and 3 ½ months post-delivery. At each of the follow-up appointments her condition was evaluated and straps were replaced as necessary. At Nya’s first recheck, her swelling had reduced significantly so padding was added to the inside of the device to tighten the fit of the brace. The owners reported that she was able to ambulate well and the brace was helping effectively manage her wounds because of the ease of removing the brace and cleaning the limb. By early April 2019, her wounds had entirely healed and her team at UPenn cleared her for a return to normal activity with the brace.  Her owners report she is able to keep up with their new puppy. We will continue to follow up with Nya’s progress as she continues to recover from such a traumatic event. She is a happy dog who will be able to enjoy life as a normal dog for years to come.

Sam Gets a Stifle Brace, Part 1 – The Casting

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

My name is Sam and I’m a four-year old Labrador Pit Bull mix who wants to tell you about my experience getting a brace.

About a month ago I was out playing with my sister. We were having a really great time running around. I turned quickly and suddenly the fun was all over. My right back leg was really hurting and I had to hold it up because I couldn’t walk on it. I hobbled to the back door. When Mom let me in and saw I couldn’t put any weight on it she got really upset.

Mom called the veterinarian right away and took me in for a visit. I don’t like the vet and this appointment didn’t make me very happy. The vet pushed and pulled on my leg and moved it different ways that made it hurt. She told Mom I had something called a Cranial Cruciate Ligament tear and needed surgery that was more than Mom could afford right now. I would need to be crated for 10-12 weeks while I healed. No playing, no running with my sister, no time outside the crate except to potty (that sure didn’t sound like fun). Mom started to cry and I really got worried. The vet then said there was a place that could make a brace that would help me and she handed my Mom a brochure.

A few days later we went to My Pet’s Brace. It looked and smelled a lot like a vet’s office; I got scared again. However, things there were just different enough tha

t I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. The lady at the desk greeted Mom and came out to meet me. I was really scared and hid behind Mom. The lady kneeled but kept talking with Mom. She talked quietly and nicely, so I came over and sniffed her. She didn’t do anything, just let me check her out and that made me feel better.

The lady led Mom and me into a room and talked to Mom about a lot of stuff. I walked around the room and kept going up and sniffing the lady. At one point she reached out her hand to me and I sniffed that too. She just held her hand there and I kept sniffing up her arm. She was OK so I let her pet me. She brought me water, too.

After a few minutes a man came in and talked to Mom for a while. He sat on the floor and talked and let me come up and sniff him. Eventually I decided he was OK and let him pet me. They talked for quite a bit and I just laid down and relaxed. After a few minutes Mom and I walked up and down a long hallway while the man watched us. That was lots of fun because there were all these great dog smells to take in. Then we went back in the room and the man talked with Mom some more.

Next, the lady that greeted us came back into the room. She and the man put on gloves and I started to worry again. Mom moved to sit on a low table, and I stayed on the floor.

Mom had my head while the other lady sat on the table next to my Mom and gently placed her hands under my belly. I wasn’t sure I liked being held like this, so I started to wiggle around. The lady just kept talking to me and then she started to rub my butt right at that special spot just above my tail. I started to relax and decided this might be OK. Maybe…

Everyone was talking in nice calm voices. The man slipped this thing like a sock on my leg, but it had no toe. He began to wrap my leg with some other stuff called fiberglass casting tape. He wrapped it snuggly around my leg then massaged it for a minute to two. It started to get a little warm and snug but it didn’t hurt. In less than 5 minutes he was cutting the stuff off my leg; they called it a cast. Nothing that he did hurt at all, it just felt a little funny. Plus, he let me sniff everything before he put it on my leg, which helped me to know there was nothing to fear. After the cast came off the man took some measurements of my hurt leg and one of my good leg, but that didn’t hurt either.

Before I knew it, we were done. I was out front being fed treats, people were petting me, and everything was good. My leg didn’t feel any better, but it didn’t feel any worse either. I decided this place wasn’t so bad. The lady said she would see me again soon for something called a fitting.  Next time, I’ll let you know how it went.

Case Study: Grady – a Labrador Retriever with an Elbow Brace for Arthritis

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Grady, an 11 year-old, 74-pound, Labrador Retriever with severe arthritis of the right elbow.

Case of Interest: Over 80% of our business is providing stifle braces for Cranial Cruciate Ligament injuries. However, we also fabricate carpal, hock and elbow braces for multiple etiologies.

Grady was diagnosed with severe arthritis in his right elbow. His owners were medically managing his condition for approximately 5 years when they decided to pursue an elbow brace for additional stabilization.

Diagnostic History: In October 2017 Grady presented to our clinic for a brace for his right elbow for severe arthritis. The brace aids in protecting the joint as well as giving the elbow stability and support. An evaluation of his condition and lifestyle were evaluated and it was determined that he would benefit from an elbow brace.

A cast was made of Grady’s elbow from the styloids of the radius and ulna to as high into the axilla as possible. This cast was then used to create a custom-made brace for Grady. This brace was made with a closed-cell foam interior, a hard-medical grade plastic exterior and specialized veterinary urethane joints at the elbow.  Range of motion straps allowed 10-15° of motion at the joint. The brace was fit and adjustments were made as necessary.

Grady was given a restricted exercise regiment, which included eliminating running and ball/dog playing.  Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 steps and if more than 4 steps were required, then some help would be needed. Leashed walks were encouraged, starting with 3 times a day for around 5 to 10 minutes each.  As he became accustomed to the brace, his walks increased and he was given more freedom.

Follow-Ups: Grady was seen approximately 1 month, 3 ½ months, and 6 ½ months after delivery. At each of the follow-up appointments his condition was evaluated and straps were replaced as necessary. He was able to go out for walks and was off most of his pain meds. Unfortunately, he had a recurrence of soft tissue sarcoma in his good elbow in August 2018 which is being managed.  With the help of the brace, Grady is getting along well and he enjoyed playing in the snow this winter.