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Indra - Our dog with a leg brace - Treatment
Sunday, 30 December 2007
In may 2007 our Swiss white Shepard badly injured her left front leg from falling down concrete stairs in Kathmandu – Nepal. She was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist. She wore a cast for 6 weeks to heal damaged bones in her wrist joint. Here you find her story after removing the cast starting a 3,5 month long recovery.

After 6 weeks Indra became very used to wearing a wrist cast and could move around fairly well. Although we had to stay away from playing with her it was nearly impossible to turn down her continuous invites for action.

We somehow feared a big setback when her cast was removed. We knew that doing the same with people caused a whole new and painful situation. With reluctance we removed her cast knowing it would cause despair and new pain.

The first we saw on her paw were marks of wear on her fur. Small bald spots where the padding in her cast had scrubbed a little. On the back of her wrist she had the biggest bald spot just below her heel. Her wrist was swollen bad – all around her wrist joint. As we’d never seen anything like this – it looked pretty bad to us. Also the slight outward bend was still there fearing her joint has somehow settled in the wrong way.

Indra could stand on her leg however she sagged deep down and there was little flexibility in her toe joints. The position of her leg while standing looked bad. Indra seemed to understand this wasn’t good and immediately laid down. She started licking her wrist and paw endlessly. We decided to make a short walk just to see how she would react.

Well – the walk was very short, it didn’t work at all. She needed wrist support bad. We made a bandage round her wrist trying to prevent the deep sagging. It seemed to us the muscles on the backside of her wrist were all gone. Even the bandage was not enough to make her stand right on her left leg.

Dog Leg Brace - Splint
Dog Leg Brace with Velcro straps
After some experimenting we created a rubber support cut from the thick wall of a car tire. With straps on both end of her wrist the rubber support was fixed on the backside of her wrist. We managed to prevent the deep sagging. Indra also seemed to notice the difference and slowly started to walk better, however still with a limp.

The new situation had startled us – the deep sagging of her leg was a disaster. With this as a permanent condition, being an active dog like Indra seemed over. The medical term for this condition is hyperextension. It refers to a condition where many of the tiny small muscles round the wrist are broken or stretched. Usually from a fall from considerable height. This condition is permanent according to several sources, leaving a deep sag in her wrist causing a permanent limping walk.

There was nothing else more we could do than see how Indra’s situation would progress.We silently hoped the muscles had weakened because of the cast taking some time to regain strength.

Dog Leg Brace - Splint
Indra with the Leg Brace / Splint
The support from the car tire acted as a leg brace. Although a rather primitive it seemed to work. The toughness of the rubber provided support while at the time it could bend a little to allow the normal position of her wrist. We also looked for commercial leg braces however the lead-time was considerable causing a 2 month wait. While the situation was still fresh we decided to see how Indra would progress in the coming 2-3 months.

Because so many things had happened since Indra’s fall, we started keeping a day to day diary in English. We noticed we started to loose track about what happened when. This way we could look back and notice progress or setback better. Also it would be a way to communicate with vets to provide insight in her ongoing condition.

The next weeks Indra improved very very slowly. Each week there were small setbacks like swollen toes, a somewhat deeper sag or Indra suddenly turning very quiet again. It looked like we were back in the first week after her fall. It was a time with ups and downs – not knowing if Indra would recover from this.

Every morning we also started flexing her wrist joint slowly – just to see how she would react on it as a sort of daily physiotherapy. At first Indra was very reluctant but after several days she seemed to recognise the drill and just let it happen.

Read the overview for Indra´s progress with and without the legbrace.
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