Pierre’s Walkin’ Blues

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    Meet Pierre, a six-year-old French Bulldog who suffers from a developmental abnormality in his spinal cord. His condition is similar to a more common disease called intervetertebral disk disease (IVDD).  IVDD is a disorder that results from a herniation of the disk material between the vertebrae, causing painful spinal cord compression. This can lead to decreased neurological function in the in the limbs. If the herniation occurs in the neck, all four limbs can be affected. In Pierre’s case, the location of his compressive injury is in the middle of his spine, so it only affects his back legs.

    This past spring, Pierre’s owner noticed he was having difficulty walking. She described his legs as weak and “rubbery,” a common complaint with compressive spinal cord disease. While surgery is often indicated in IVDD cases, Pierre’s situation was unique. Because of his developmental abnormality, the neurosurgeon determined he was not a good candidate for surgery.  His owner was heartbroken, but determined to do whatever she could to help Pierre walk again.  With the approval of Pierre’s neurosurgeon, she decided to give rehabilitation a try.

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    Pierre uses a custom-fitted two wheeled cart, letting him use his front legs while supporting the hind limbs._

    When Pierre first arrived at Water4Dogs, he had lost all use of his rear legs. The prognosis for regaining the use of his hind limbs was guarded to poor.  He was fitted with a cart for mobility as his rehabilitation process was getting underway.

    Dr. Block developed a treatment plan designed to promote Pierre’s awareness and strength in his hind limbs. With a combination of laser therapy, underwater treadmill exercise, controlled swim therapy, acupuncture and herbal therapy, something amazing happened.  Pierre’s legs began to respond.

    At first, Pierre needed to be supported from the ceiling during treadmill sessions, allowing our therapists to use both hands to manipulate his hind legs.
    Early on, Pierre was supported from the ceiling during treadmill sessions, leaving the therapist’s hands free to manipulate his legs.
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    First, Pierre regained his ability to stand unassisted.  Then he took a few steps on his own.  Pretty soon, his progress began to skyrocket. As Pierre’s mobility improved, his treatment plan evolved to incorporate more strengthening and cardiovascular exercises to promote muscle tone and weight loss.  Within a few months, Pierre was walking again.  Dr Block was thrilled, his owner was ecstatic, but no one could be happier than Pierre himself.

    Pierre’s abnormal anatomy will never disappear, but that does not mean he can’t live a happy, healthy and active life. His owner’s dedication to his recovery is astounding, and Pierre’s own persistence shines through during his ongoing rehab sessions. Today, Pierre is even running again, to the delight of his owners and all of the Water4Dogs Team!