Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kenai Rehab: Complete!

December 2, 2015, was a bit of a monumental day for Kenai --

He met all of the discharge criteria for physical therapy rehab.

Following the surgery saga this year (for those who don't want to click the link, the quick and dirty of it is that he had 3 stifle surgeries in less than a month's time due to a myriad of complications and shitty luck), I sought out physical therapy rehab (referred to as rehab from here on) with a specialist.

Since July, I have traveled to Morgantown (a 3 hour round trip) for rehab sessions. The specialist and I agreed to 10 sessions for the amount of money I had budgeted for the rehab. Both of our schedules were a bit crazy, but we made it work. 

The first visit I learned how I would stretch Kenai and what other homework exercises we would need to work through between our visits. It was a lot of information to take in! But I took photos and notes and all was well. 

I stretched Kenai daily and put him through the list of exercises. The degree of difficulty for the exercises changed with time as Kenai improved and progressed. 

In addition to our stretches and exercises, each rehab session also included cold laser therapy and time on the underwater treadmill. I took videos of every session he had in the aquatread (we didn't use it on our first session due to concerns that he wasn't quite ready for that step nor one of the November sessions due to my late arrival because of traffic).

Now, before I launch into the myriad of gifs from aquatread sessions below, I think it is worthwhile to share the following two for baseline comparison.

This video was taken summer of 2011 before any of the chaos with Kenai's multiple stifle surgeries began. It's a great baseline video for what his movement (and his coat!) used to look like.

This video is from June 2015 prior to any rehab session and about 6 weeks post-op from the last surgery. You can see how incredibly stiff he was and how limited his range of motion was through his hip and knee.

Now, I've made gifs of each of the aquatread sessions and put them in chronological order below for comparison. The hind leg closest to the camera (right hind) is the one that had the surgeries. In addition to the changes in his hair regrowth over time, pay attention to his striding, how he places his weight, his comfort with how long he will bear weight on each hind limb, etc. (I know most of my readers are horse-folk who are very accustomed to looking for subtleties in lameness, so much of this and more will be second nature to look for!)

August 14, 2015

September 2, 2015

October 7, 2015

October 28, 2015

November 18, 2015

December 2, 2015 -- hesitations in his step were because he was distracted watching me

For the observant viewers, yes, the water levels changed with time (decreased) to lower buoyancy and increase difficulty. Additionally, Kenai was introduced to an incline.

Kenai's progress with his stretching and exercises and aquatread, coupled with my comments about his increased appetite (as opposed to being finicky during the two years between surgeries), increased play drive (he prances about the apartment and house with his toys trying to force you to play with him now as he once did when he was a puppy), increased fitness (you'd have to really get your hands on him to note this...or just watch him frolic amok), and general newfound zest for life (you've seen the photos on my blog, instagram, and Facebook -- this dog is HAPPY) led the specialist to tell me he could be discharged from physical therapy as he has met all of the criteria she sets. She deemed him fit to return to nearly anything he wants to do. (The use of "nearly" here is my own as there are numerous things I won't allow him to do again (skijoring or pulling significant amounts of weight and faster, lengthy trail rides) just because I don't want to put any undue stress on the joint.)

However, because Kenai has met these criteria in only 8 sessions (she called this a miracle, by the way -- mostly it is due to my diligence with stretching and exercises), she would be more comfortable with everything if she could see him once in January and once in February, which would allow us to meet the 10 sessions we'd agreed on. She left the decision up to me ultimately, but I didn't need to even think about it, "Of COURSE! I'd feel more comfortable with that, too!" It'll be great for continuing to map his progress.

We will continue to pursue the exercises and stretching for life as they are now a necessary part of keeping Kenai happy and mobile. 

I have learned SO MUCH from this experience. It's been a saga and not the easiest of ones! Despite all of the stress, pain, worry, and tears, I am so pleased to have my adventure buddy back -- and just in time for the snow to fly!

Hopefully this closes this chapter in Kenai's life. I look forward to many more years with my best friend on the snow and off. For now though, we're psyched about a winter of snowy treks through Canaan Valley and beyond!

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