Late last year, Bill Scherrer, DVM, DACVS at SAGE Campbell examined a 5-month old tabby kitten, Xavier, who came to SAGE from the Silicon Valley Pet Project. From radiographs, Dr. Scherrer could see the kitten had several fractures to his pelvis and his right sacroiliac joint was dislocated. Although radiographs of the right hind leg were clear, severe neurologic deficits were present and the kitten was dragging his limb. Given the severity of the pelvic fractures, there was a concern that if they amputated the right hind leg, his left hind leg would not be strong enough to compensate for the loss.
Dr. Scherrer referred Xavier to Margot Daly, DVM, CCRP, who is part of the SAGE Campbell Physical Rehabilitation team and uses Integrative Medicine techniques to address pain and mobility issues.
Dr. Daly developed a conservative rehabilitation exercise plan for Xavier, and his foster Thu Tran worked with him at her home. Soon after, Dr. Daly noticed that the toes on his right foot were contracting from not bearing weight. His awkward walking position had resulted in a blister on the top of his foot; if it turned into a wound and became infected, amputation would likely be inevitable. At this stage, Dr. Daly created a more aggressive rehabilitation plan.
Dr. Daly’s treatment approach “used all of our tools.”
- She developed a new home exercise plan to strengthen the nerve in his right hind leg, as well as his core muscles and his left hind leg.
- She used acupuncture and cold laser therapy to do as much as she could to repair the nerve damage in the right hind leg.
- She also created a customized, thermoplastic brace that reduced the digital contracture, protecting his skin from abrasions and allowing him to improve the weight bearing through the injured limb.
Dr. Daly treated Xavier regularly over a 3-month period. Over time, he was able to bear weight on his right hind leg and regained control over his hip, knee, and ankle, allowing him to walk with minimal lameness and without hyperextension of the ankle.
Eventually, Xavier was adopted into a loving home.
“We got him to the point where he was able to walk normally with the brace on,” Dr. Daly says. “When he came in for his check up with his new family at the end of last year, he had outgrown the brace so I adjusted it. His family said he was only using it during the day to protect his foot.”
Xavier never regained use of his toes, but doctors did not have to amputate his leg, and eventually he was climbing the cat tree and having a normal kitten life. See for yourself!
Video courtesy of Thu Tran