By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner
The Patient: Lucy a 7-year-old, 17-pound, mini Cocker Spaniel with bilateral stifle braces for postsurgical CCL repair and protection.
Case of Interest: We have been asked if stifle braces can be used post-surgically and the answer is yes. Braces can be applied after sutures have been removed. Lucy was one such case. On July 5, 2017, Lucy jumped off the porch and began limping on her right hind leg. She had previously been diagnosed with bilateral luxating patellas and was scheduled for surgery for bilateral patella stabilization. During the patella surgery, it was determined that the right CCL was ruptured and an extracapsular stabilization was performed. Lucy recovered from the surgery with minimal side effects. However, during recovery Lucy jumped from her owner’s arms as she was being carried down from the bed and Lucy started limping again. The veterinarian examined Lucy during her two-week post-surgical follow-up and determined that drawer motion was present but was significantly less than the movement felt before the surgery. The veterinarian suggested Lucy be fit with a right stifle brace for post-surgical support and a left stifle brace for additional protection.
Diagnostic History: In September 2017 Lucy presented to our clinic for bilateral braces for post-surgical support of the right hind leg following a CCL stabilization surgery and for support of the left hind leg to reduce the chance of injury due to compensation. We evaluated Lucy’s weight-bearing during walking and standing, contractures, range of motion, muscle atrophy, inside and outside activity levels, owner participation, and home environment. It was determined that Lucy would benefit from bilateral stifle braces to resist tibial thrust during the activity. Casts were made of both legs and the braces were fabricated using medical-grade plastic and closed-cell foam. The braces were fit a week after the casts were taken and adjustments were made as necessary.
Lucy was given a restricted exercise regimen which included no running or dog and ball playing. Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 and if more than 4 were required it was suggested she be carried. Leashed walks were encouraged but limited to 2 or 3 walks a day at around 10 to 15 minutes each walk. This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow time for scar tissue to form. Afterward, she was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.
Follow-Ups: Lucy was seen 3 weeks and 3 months after delivery. Lucy adjusted quickly to the braces and both Lucy and her owner were happy. During the follow-up appointments, straps on the brace were replaced as necessary. Lucy’s limp disappeared and she was able to return to her normal activity level. Lucy wore the braces for nine months. Currently, she only wears them for extra support during walks.