This case report presents the unique contributions of physical therapy using principles of motor learning in the rehabilitation of a canine patient post C5-C6 ventral slot procedure and subsequent rhizotomy of C6, with a secondary central cord infarct.
This case describes an eight-year old, MN, Rottweiler who presented to the physical therapy department as tetraparetic following a diagnosis of cervical intervertebral disc disease. Baseline assessment revealed a very low functioning dog, incapable of independent voluntary motor activity and requiring maximal assistance for all transfers and activities of daily living.
Principles of motor learning were incorporated into intense physical therapy treatments to promote neuroplasticity, including part-task practice, repetitions, specificity of tasks that are novel and challenging, and neuromuscular re-education models, such as proprioceptive, balance and perturbation training. This dog returned to independence and normal activities of daily living on a horse farm with minimal residual neurologic deficits.
This report is interesting because it describes a dog with severe cervical neurological comorbidities, whose prognosis was described as ‘poor’ for return to function by referring veterinarians. Additional studies need to be conducted to better understand how various motor learning approaches affect neuroplasticity and affect the overall functional outcome of canine cervical patients.
Adrian, Caroline P. and Smith, Marcia B.
"Contributions of Motor Learning in the Physical Therapy of a Working Dog: A Case Report,"
Interprofessional Journal of Healthcare and Research: Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.northgeorgia.edu/ijhr/vol1/iss1/2