To aid patients in ambulation we sometimes use assistive devices that help promote independent locomotion. Humans use devices like can, crutches, braces and prosthesis to assist in use of walking and getting around easier. In recent years more devices have been conceived to help our canine partners in similar ways. We can help our pets with devices that support and protect unstable joints such as boot and orthosis; replace missing limbs with prosthesis; or facilitate locomotion with slings or carts.
The unique challenge that we face with our pets is to properly fit such devices. It requires communication between the manufacture, veterinarian and the rehabilitation practitioner to get the correct measurements and to assess the mechanical needs of the patient. This helps ensures that the device is no rubbing or is too tight that it can restrict blood flow. Assistive devices also tolerated differently between patients. Some may take to them very well while others will fight or will not move at all in their devices. It also important that the dog have supervision while using their devices. Many times they can chew up the equipment or get it caught on something.
There is a board range of assistive devices that are being used. Assistive devices can be used short term to help them recover from surgery or trauma or long term, like wheel chairs to help a paraplegia patients. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine if a patient is needing additional support to help them to get around.
Cindi, RVT CCRP