Neurology Service at WSU: Featured Patients
A 6-year-old dachshund name “Dexter,” was referred to WSU by his local
veterinarian after he stopped using his hind legs and began dragging them as
he walked with his front legs. Dexter was having back pain and an MRI
revealed one of his discs was pressing on his spinal cord causing the
paralysis in his hind legs, a fairly common condition in dachshunds.
After surgery on his spine, Lori Lutskas, a veterinary physical
rehabilitation specialist, began physical rehabilitation with Dexter using a
therapeutic underwater treadmill to help him regain use of his muscles.
Because he could not yet move his legs for himself, she “walked” his hind
legs to mimic normal walking. After just one week, he began taking steps on
his own. By day 11 he was walking with occasional use of a sling for
“Neurology patients are some of the most rewarding,” said
Lutskas. “When you have a patient that can’t walk and then through treatment
they can, it is very gratifying. If the animal was paralyzed then seeing
even two steps is remarkable.”
Dexter ended up staying at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for two
weeks since he was also part of a study evaluating the advantages of
underwater treadmill therapy. Preliminary findings in the ongoing study are
that animals begin walking sooner and recover more quickly when hydrotherapy
is added to their treatment plan.
After two follow-up visits, Dexter is doing well and only having occasional
stumbling or missteps. Not all patients do regain the ability to walk, Lori
explains, and for those patients a wheel chair can be a good option.
Dexter in the