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Case Study: Suki – Horse With Protective Blanket For Burns

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Suki, an 11-year-old old mare with severe burns and skin grafts

Case of Interest: We don’t only make leg braces and prosthetics.  For Suki the horse, we designed and fabricated a blanket to help her skin heal from extensive burns. 

Diagnostic History: In the middle of the night in July 2009, the barn where Suki was sleeping caught fire. Suki escaped the fire, but not before a burning piece of the roof fell onto her back. Suki had second- and third-degree burns covering 70% of her body and was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

The burn wounds slowly began to slough off revealing pink, new skin beneath. However, a patch of particularly burned skin on her back was having difficulty healing. As the wound would begin to heal, Suki would roll onto her back to relieve the itching. This would open the wound again and healing would be delayed.

To help promote healing, a skin graft was eventually decided upon. The skin graft used small skin plugs that were taken from the healthy left side of Suki’s neck. Over two dozen small plugs were then implanted into the wound on her back.

Over the next weeks and months, the area would start to heal and she would again scratch her back by rolling. Each time she rolled she would open the graft and the healing would be further delayed. Eventually, veterinarian Dr. Lori Ferdock recommended contacting our office for suggestions.

In June 2011, a practitioner from My Pet’s Brace met with Suki, Suki’s owner, and Suki’s veterinarian several times for evaluation and fitting appointments. The area on her back with the skin graft was about 12 inches by 18 inches. A breathable light-weight material was fashioned into a blanket with a molded insert that would bridge the burnt area and protect the skin, even if Suki rolled on the ground. 

First, a material that has a hexagonal honeycomb-like shape was molded and conformed to the wound area. The material would also allow the area to breathe and encourage air movement around the skin graft. A pocket in the lightweight fabric allowed the insert to be removed for cleaning. Straps were added to keep the blanket in place while Suki moved.

Follow-Ups: Suki was seen multiple times since the protective blanket was created. Small modifications were made to ensure it did not shift. She has since healed perfectly and is back to being ridden and living a very full life. She has been an inspiration to many burn victims, both human and animal, and has touched the lives of so many people in many walks of life.

To learn more about her amazing story and recovery visit: http://sukithehorseburnsurvivor.blogspot.com/2012/01/healing-difficulties-again-june-2011.html.

Case Study: Lt Danny – Pitbull with Bilateral Prosthetic Devices

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Lt Danny, a 2-year-old, 40-pound Pitbull terrier with congenital amputations of both rear paws

Case of Interest: As a young active dog without rear paws, Lt Danny’s family was concerned about his long-term quality of life.  They pursued bilateral prosthetic devices to protect his residual limbs, level his spine for proper alignment and reduce overcompensation on his front legs.

Diagnostic History: Lt Danny was born in Georgia without his rear paws distally from the calcanei. He was rescued by a veterinarian who decided that prostheses were needed to ensure that Lt Danny would not develop arthritis or develop any back issues due to the height discrepancy between his fore and rear legs. Prosthetics were also needed to protect the skin covering the residual lumbs from injury. Prior to Lt Danny coming to our facility multiple sets of devices were attempted by another company but were unsuccessful.

Lt Danny came to our facility on New Year’s Eve 2019 for an evaluation for bilateral prostheses. His weight-bearing, range of motion, activity level, skin sensitivity, and height discrepancies were examined. It was determined that he would be a good candidate for bilateral prosthetics. Casts were formed around the remaining portion of the limbs and focused specifically on the distal end to ensure as comfortable and intimate fit of the devices as possible. The height discrepancy between the shoulder and hip was determined to ensure that the prosthetics were the proper height for a better conformation.

The prosthetics were created with a hard-plastic outer shell for stability and a softer padded inner shell for protection. The inner shell is slipped onto the residual limb first, then it is inserted into the outer shell. This design allows for the inner shell to come apart from the outer shell in extreme cases such as the prosthetic becoming lodged in a hole while outside. The fit between the inner and outer shells is tight enough so that during normal activity such as walks, running, and jumping the prosthetic will stay firmly in place but only during extreme cases will the shells separate.

Follow-Ups: Lt Danny was seen approximately one week after delivery to determine the fit of the prosthetics after a few days of break-in and consistent wearing. Appropriate adjustments were made to the devices to ensure comfort and safety. Lt Danny continues to use the prosthetics for exercise and uses them to run and play with his friends at doggy daycare.

Case Study: Tula – Labrador Retriever With A CCL Injury

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Tula, a 60-pound, 11.5-year-old Labrador retriever with a CCL tear

Case of Interest: Tula is a happy-go-lucky senior Labrador whose family pursued a custom knee brace and physical therapy for her CCL injury instead of surgery.  Whenever possible, we at My Pet’s Brace recommend combining physical therapy with bracing to aid in the healing process.

Tula lives with her family in Colorado.  A local veterinarian took a cast of Tula’s leg, the cast was mailed to our fabrication facility in Pennsylvania and the completed stifle brace was shipped to the owner one week later.

Diagnostic History: In November 2019, Tula was having the time of her life, running in circles, stopping, and running in circles in the other direction. Then she made that fateful wrong step, yelped and began limping on her left hind leg.

Her regular veterinarian diagnosed her with a fully torn left CCL and recommended TPLO surgery. They said her only other option was crate rest. 

The owner was concerned about surgery due to Tula’s age.  She did her own online research and found us, My Pet’s Brace, in Pennsylvania.  She purchased a casting kit from our facility and a different veterinarian used the materials to create a cast of Tula’s leg.  The cast was mailed to us in Pennsylvania.

The stifle brace was fabricated and mailed to Colorado, where Tula received it on Dec 23rd, 2019 which happened to be her 12th birthday!  The stifle brace controls the anterior drawer movement of the tibia.  Her owner said, “As soon as I put the brace on she started walking on all fours! She knew it was helpful right away.”

Follow-Ups: Tula continued to progress with the help of her brace and began bearing more weight on her left hind leg. However, the owner was still concerned about the atrophy in her hind end.

Tula’s owner found a local canine rehab facility. Tula started with traditional ground-based therapy that focused on balance and strengthening exercises. She also did hydrotherapy, walking on a water treadmill.

She has begun weaning off the brace for local walks and potty breaks but always has it on when she goes for hikes, is in the creek, or playing with other dogs. She is now back to her normal goofy Labrador personality and is not going to be stopped any time soon!  Her owner said, “The turning point was when she visibly had more muscle strength in her left hind leg/gluts. She walks comfortably and confidently in the neighborhood without her brace.  Tula’s custom brace is the best decision I have made as a dog mom.”

Case Study: Miss Winfrey – Boxer with Bilateral CCL Injuries

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Miss Winfrey, a 60 pound, 6-year-old Boxer who sustained a left CCL tear in 2017 and a right CCL tear in 2018.

Case of Interest: According to many published studies and research, if a dog injures one CCL there is a 50-60% chance of the dog rupturing the contralateral CCL. However, our own experiences do not mirror this percentage.

According to our patient reported outcomes survey in 2020, only 18% of dogs injure the opposite CCL after receiving their initial stifle brace.[1] Unfortunately, Miss Winfrey was one such dog in that minority.

Diagnostic History: Miss Winfrey slid across their kitchen floor and became three-legged lame. After her orthopedic evaluation, Miss Winfrey was diagnosed with a chronic CCL tear in her left stifle with a suspected meniscus tear.

Miss Winfrey presented to our clinic in early December 2017 favoring her left hind leg while standing and walking.  We took a cast of her leg and fitted her with a left stifle brace. She wore her left stifle brace for 9 months during her waking hours.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. The resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is also designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the strain on the ligament.

In December 2018, she was running around in the backyard when she yelped and began favoring her right hind leg. Her veterinarian diagnosed her with a CCL tear in the right stifle.

She returned to our clinic in mid-January 2019 for a right stifle brace. The original left stifle brace was also cleaned and the straps were replaced.

The owner was instructed to have Miss Winfrey wear the original left stifle brace during the break-in period for the new right stifle brace to give her additional stability. She was also instructed to wear both stifle braces during walks and active periods to ensure ample support during these times.

Follow-Ups: Miss Winfrey returned to My Pet’s Brace for several check-up appointments during 2018 and 2019. She was able to transition from wearing both braces and on restricted activity to being able to go back to her normal lifestyle.  She no longer wears either brace, is bearing full weight on both rear legs and is thriving!

Watch Miss Winfrey with and without her two knee braces.

[1] My Pet’s Brace emailed a Knee Brace Follow Up Survey in January 2020 to pet owners whose dog received a stifle brace for CCL injury between 2015-2018. Out of 687 survey responses, 123 or 17.9% of owners reported their dog sustained a CCL injury on the opposite leg after receiving a stifle brace for a CCL injury on the initially injured leg.

Case Study: Ginny – Bluetick Coonhound with Neosporosis

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Ginny, 50 pound, a 1-year-old Bluetick Coonhound with Neosporosis causing hind leg abnormalities.

Case of Interest: Due to an unexpected illness, Ginny’s mobility and range of motion in both of her rear legs completely changed.  She was fitted with a custom stifle brace that mitigated the effects of her condition and improved her quality of life.

Diagnostic History: Ginny was seen by her veterinarian for lameness in her right hind leg after playing in a dog park with a few other dogs. As the months progressed, lameness increased and was not improving with medication. She was eventually diagnosed with Neospora, a parasite found primarily in cattle and canines.

Neosporosis in canines typically does not show signs or symptoms but can be associated with hindlimb atrophy and/or hindlimb paresis and rigidness. Ginny’s illness progressed until she had a totally rigid right stifle and hock and a weak left stifle and hock.

When Ginny bears weight onto her left hind leg, she collapses medially at the hock and has a valgus conformation at the stifle and hock as well as internal rotation of the hip and stifle. Her right hind leg is rigid at the stifle and hock and she bears weight on the medial aspect of the digits.

Her veterinarian recommended a left stifle brace to reduce the stress and pressure on the medial collateral ligament, cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments and the meniscus. 

A brace was created to reduce the stresses in Ginny’s stifle and slow the progress of the degradation of the joint. The brace was fabricated with extra padding where the stress would be transferred. It was based on a three-point pressure system where the pressure that was exerted on the medial aspect of the stifle would be transferred and spread out to the lateral side of the thigh and calf. The joints allowed normal range of motion but resisted motion medio-laterally.

Follow-Ups: Ginny returned to My Pet’s Brace three-weeks and three-months after the fitting of her brace. Her family said, “The brace has helped Ginny astronomically. Before she was struggling to use the restroom because of the unique shape of her left leg and not having the proper support needed. With the brace, she uses the restroom with no issues and it appears to be easier for her during the bathroom process. Ginny is also able to run and play with other dogs because of the added support. When she has the brace on there is a noticeable improvement in her walking, without the brace she uses her right leg (peg leg) more frequently whereas with the brace it is more balanced.”

Case Study: Hannibull – A Cadaver Dog With A CCL Injury

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Hannibull, a 55-pound, 9-year old working dog with a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear on his left hind leg.

Case of Interest: Hannibull is an active cadaver dog.  He is trained to detect human remains and alert his handler. He is a working dog that needed support for his CCL injury so he could continue his job. 

Hannibal with Knee Brace

Diagnostic History: Hannibull injured his leg while playing in his yard in early September 2018. He was seen by his veterinarian shortly after and was diagnosed with a CCL tear on his left hind leg. The decision was made to pursue a custom stifle brace for his injury due to the amount of activity that his job required. He was seen at the My Pet’s Brace clinic about a week after the injury for the casting of his leg.  He returned the next day for the fitting of the brace.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. The resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is also designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the strain on the ligament.

Follow-Ups: He was seen multiple times at our clinic for check-ups on his progress and brace maintenance. In January 2019, he returned to our facility to have a second, spare brace manufactured. This second brace was used when his original brace was dirty or undergoing maintenance. He wore his stifle brace for nine months. He no longer wears his brace and has regained full weight-bearing and function. Nothing is slowing him down.

Case Study: Leo – A Springer Spaniel With Double Jointed Hock Brace for Knuckling

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

Patient: Leo, a 45-pound, 8-month-old English Springer Spaniel with nerve damage causing knuckling on the left hind leg.

Diagnostic History: Leo was playing with their neighbor’s dog when he fell and was impaled on a rebar stake that was sticking out of the ground. The rebar entered through his back to the left of his spinal cord, transected through his abdomen, and exited cranially and distally from the hip joint, through the tensor fascia lata.

Once he was freed, he was rushed to the emergency veterinarian. There was no major damage to any internal organs. 

He made a full recovery but continued to knuckle on his left hind leg due to nerve damage.  This began to produce sores and abrasions on the cranial aspect of his paw.  As Leo was not fully weight-bearing on that leg, his muscles were starting to atrophy.

Leo was seen at My Pet’s Brace in October 2019. It was observed that he was knuckling and had noticeable atrophy to his quadriceps and hamstrings on his left hind leg. He had acceptable range of motion in his hip, stifle, and hock.

My Pet’s Brace fabricated a double-jointed hock brace with a paw pad.  The brace was made with two sets of joints to provide the greatest range of motion.  The first set of joints allows movement at the hock and the second set of joints allows movement at the tarsal.

The brace’s function is to provide stability to Leo’s tarsal and hock joints and keep the paw from knuckling. This was done by supporting the paw from below and removing the ability to hyperflex in the tarsal joint.  Unable to knuckle, Leo can walk normally, bear weight on the leg and build back the muscles in his leg.

Follow-Ups: Leo has returned regularly for check-ups and general maintenance of the brace. Upon his last check-up the abrasions have closed, and the fur is beginning to grow back on the cranial aspect of his paw. He is a young active dog that can now walk and play like a normal dog with the help of his brace. 

Case Study: Wicca – a Cane Corso from Canada with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Wicca, a 109-pound Cane Corso from Canada with a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear on her left hind leg.

Case of Interest:  Wicca is a large breed dog from Canada. At My Pet’s Brace, we ship leg braces all over the world once we receive a cast of the dog’s leg from you, the local vet or rehab professional.  Wicca used her custom knee brace in conjunction with rehab therapies.  This case shows how rehab can aid and improve a dog’s outcome with the assistance from a brace.

Diagnostic History: Wicca injured her left CCL in March 2018. Her local vet made an accurate cast of her leg and mailed it to our fabrication center in Morgantown, PA in late September 2018.

Due to the length of Wicca’s leg and her weight, it was determined that her stifle brace required heavy-duty joints. For larger dogs, we use aluminum dual-axis joints with long aluminum arms to provide the necessary support.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. This resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the stress and strain on the ligament and the scar tissue forming in the stifle.

The completed brace was mailed to Wicca’s veterinarian one week later for fitting.  She was instructed to wear the brace for 6-9 months. We mailed Wicca a sheepskin pad to add to the bottom-most strap of the brace to solve a red spot on her hock.

Follow-Ups: Wicca partook in physical therapy sessions with a professional as well as at home during the use of her brace.  Sessions included hydrotherapy, cold laser treatments, cryotherapy, acupuncture and special exercises. Wicca wore her stifle brace for six months.  Her mom said, “Wicca is doing fabulous!! No more limping, not a lot of stiffness. She has gained a lot of muscle back in her leg, we try to hike six to eight km a day now…lots of hills and uneven terrain.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.