November 6, 2006

Left Knee - Physical Therapy Appointment (Wk 3)

Monday - November 6th, 2006

Murphy had his stitches removed this morning. He was a bear in the truck on the way over to the clinic. He once again has forgotten at the two week mark that he isn't healed. He pulled like a bear across the parking lot, and forgot all of his manners in the waiting area. All he cared about is that he was out in public, and around people and other dogs.

We met with Carol, the Canine Physical Therapist, immediately after his stitches were removed. She did a few different tests, and took all kinds of measurements of his hips, knees, muscles and ankles. We told her all about Murphy's history and how it came to be that he ended up having double knee surgery. She told us that it has been her experience that when younger dogs have problems with both knees it seems to be more genetic, when one knee goes out the other soon follows. She said in the older dogs she's seen it seems to be more sporadic, and typically only one knee will have complications. This wasn't news to me because this was something that Dr. Brehm had told me during our initial consult. He said that there is research going on right now in Newfoundland’s that may pinpoint the genetics of knee problems. It is his hope that they will soon find the link. He hopes for a future where breeders will be able to guarantee knees just like they do with the hips.

We advised Carol of Murphy's 'bow-legged ness' from his first surgery. She determined that his right Achilles tendon is rather tight, and that it may be one of the reasons why. She also tested his toes and found that his toe span on that side was smaller than on his left. Apparently when larger dogs walk, they walk with their toes spread out... like when we make a five on our hand. If they are compensating for anything while walking, they will hold their toes together, and their toe span will decrease. We were given some toe exercises to do on Murphy's toes to get his span back to normal. We were also given several, very easy and natural, exercises to do with him so that he puts weight on all of his legs normally. She said that right now he is carrying about 70% of his weight on his front legs and 30% of it on his back legs. She even got to witness the Murphy Hop (like a rabbit) during one of her tests. The goal is to eliminate that, obviously. She also gave us some exercises to do during his therapy walks that will help force him to shift his weight to his back legs, and an exercise to help get him prepared for making his way up the stairs.

Rob and I felt pretty comfortable about the therapy appointment and think that it will be helpful in getting Murphy back to doing the things he loves. We've figured out that he won't be able to play fetch again until at least March or April. We were told that we really need to keep his running controlled to allow for the bones to graph and strengthen. Running in a straight line isn't the issue; it's the planting and turning of the foot that is cause for concern.

We have officially retired his funny blue hat. We are sure that he won't miss it, and we won't miss the sad look he gave us every time we had to put it on.

We can hardly believe that we are in week 10 of the total 16 for both knees. The time has gone by quicker than we thought it would.


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