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.”