5-6-08  New accomplishment for my dog

Today my dog went on the underwater treadmill. For anyone who doesn't know, she has been paralyzed since 2003 from a spinal fracture (broken back). After 9 months she learned to spinal walk, a kind of reflex walking in which the back feet move due to a reflex driven by the movement of the front feet. The treadmill has a moving belt in the middle and a narrow solid ledge about 3" wide on the side. Today my dog put her front feet on the unmoving ledge and walked on the treadmill with her back feet only, keeping up with the speed. The thing is, since her front feet were not moving, it doesn't seem like this is reflex walking. I am so proud of her, we are so impressed!

Dog exercising in underwater treadmill

7-29-08  Bounding on the treadmill

My dog was paralyzed September 23, 2003. Earlier this week out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw her go bounding across the family room kind of hopping, very fast, but it happened so fast I didn't really see it. Today in physical therapy, the therapist said that when she was on the treadmill, there was another dog in the room and my dog kept barking at him, and the whole time she barked she was bounding along on the treadmill with her back legs together hopping, and she was bending her knees to put a spring in her hops. This is something she has never been able to do since she was paralyzed, but she learned to do it this week. This week she has been paralyzed 4 years and 10 months.

I'm just happy [...] because this is another way she gets to express her original self, and I'm so glad she got this back. Something connected, with the movement of the treadmill and the motivation of barking at the other dog, her former memory of physical expression went through her mind and this time the nerves had healed enough that the signal went all the way through.

The body has to remap the pathway from the brain to the toes, and physical therapy gives it something to work with. You are telling those signals where you want them to go. I think neurons (or whatever) are so infinitesimally small, but nerves do regenerate over time. You want them to regenerate in a way that gives maximum function, so you continue physical therapy. But I never expected something this big after nearly 5 years.