Hemi – Congenital Spinal Deformity

Written by: Stacy Wilson
Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2016

Hemi restingHemi standing







Patient Name: Hemi
Signalment: 12 week old, intact female, Labrador Retriever

Clinical Problems:

  • Congenital spinal deformity – Hemi stands with a kyphotic (rounded) back with an obvious curve in her spine. On palpation, her spinous processes are rotated slightly to her right from T10-T12 and more severely to her left from T13-L5.  
  • Moderate bilateral hind limb ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Decreased conscious proprioception reactions (awareness of paw/limb placement) in both of her hind limbs
  • Deep pain response absent in both hind limbs
  • Skins lesions present on both hind limbs from repeated self-trauma
  • Moderate to severe thigh muscle atrophy bilaterally
  • Mild to moderate shoulder atrophy bilaterally
  • Bilaterally significant tension of the biceps brachii, pectorals, sartorius, and semimembranous muscles
  • Restricted movement of the mid-thoracic and lumbar spinal motion units

Rehabilitation Goals:

  • Strengthen the core, hip, and thigh muscles
  • Improve balance, proprioception, and coordination
  • Improve quality of movement
  • Improve quality of life

Modalities used in Rehabilitation Program:

  • Therapeutic massage of all four limbs
  • Targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Homework Exercises
    • Cookie side bends and stretches – helps strengthen core muscles (abdominal and back muscles)
    • Proper sits – helps strengthen the hind limbs
    • Toe pinches and tickles – also helps strengthen the hind limbs
    • Massage of all four limbs

Hemi was born with a spinal deformity that had initially left her unable to walk. By the time of her initial consultation with Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation & Therapy for Pets, Hemi was already walking on her own but still had neurologic deficits in her hind limbs and diffuse muscle atrophy. The main goals of Hemi’s therapy are to strengthen her muscles and improve her quality of movement over time.

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