Elderly Sheepdog With Neurological Problems – Homework Review

Here is the short write-up of my recommendations/reminders for Abby’s functional rehab and the process I believe will improve her neuro-muscular capabilities and strength.

To Abby’s Caretakers:

Some of this will be stuff I’ve mentioned several times over the course of working with Abby, however it bears review, and most of the time, when I re-evaluate a program, often we need to go back closer to a beginning point and press forward methodically in order to achieve expected gains. As always, I am available to do this work and especially if you need assistance because it is hard on your own body or even just to make sure it gets done so that Abby may recover well! 🙂

I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial the vibrational massage is, even if you do it every other day instead of every day for now. For a refresher, please watch the 10 minute video here:

https://rehabdeb.com/pet-massage/

And do it as best possible without cutting corners. You will get the best outcome if you follow the video instructions, and I’d really like it done daily to better encourage healing on several levels. Pertinent questions are also covered in the video, as well as methodology and benefits. Make sure you change out the batteries as soon as they seem dull, because the best benefit from this massage is realized from the vibration, which stimulates circulation, lessens tension, and potentially improves nerve conduction. I recommend, for now, doing the massage at the end of the day, at bedtime or thereabouts.

For the next week, please walk Abby twice daily, super slowly and consistently, without stopping, for 15 minutes. I chose 15 minutes because you said she has already accomplished doing 10 min walks for a week, 3-4 times per day. Before that, she laid a foundation with 3-4 five minute walks daily for a week. There are very many reasons why I use this method, and they all contribute to the gains we are trying to achieve. Super slow walking encourages use of all limbs to the best of their ability. Abby has already been able to walk multiple times daily, super slowly, for five and ten minute sessions, having built up slowly. Using the same exercise protocol for a week allows more time for the body to adjust to the work load, and it should go well, because these are introductory workouts, to build a base.

For the week following the twice daily 15 min walks, please walk her 2×20 minutes in the same manner, and only if the 15 minute walks are completed well for a week. She should be able to complete these walks without dragging a hind limb and without sagging or falling down. That’s because we spent time building the base. Otherwise, she needs to return to 10 minute walks and do them multiple times daily to ensure success. I am not wanting complete fatigue and maxing ability at this point; I am after building successful progress, which I believe her body will adapt to and accomplish.

I really would like her to wear two supportive hard braces during these walks, and I realize you have only one. She hyper-extends both her tarsal joints, and in order to use her hind legs properly and to subsequently use the muscles better/properly, the supportive brace that prevents hyper-extension while she is doing her slow drills would be additionally beneficial. Use the one you have on her R hind, since that leg has the most deficits and is the weakest. She hyper-extends because of nerve weakness and deficits in this case, and that has been a problem since I began giving you instruction for her over a year ago.

After the week of 2×20 min slow, relatively flat walks, please add in cavalettis, obstacles, to improve her proprioception. This may be accomplished in many ways and several locations around your environment. I have photos on my Facebook rehab page that depict several home-based cavaletti designs. Please be sure to read the descriptions below the pictures, because not every type of cavaletti is for every pet 🙂

Abby needs to do the cavalettis every other day and during one of the walk workout times. You should warm her up walking for 5 minutes then do obstacle repeats for 10-15 minutes. I suggest you use about 5 items in a row, spaced about half an Abby-length apart, and between 4-6 inches high for now. If we could get the old cat to do the work, I’m pretty sure we can get Abby to do it! If she is too stubborn for you, I will be glad to take a rehab session and work with you and her on this drill.

After a week of this drill, keep doing it as prescribed, and add in hill repeats every third day as one of her twice-daily workouts. I suggest walking out the front door, around to the back yard, and then up and down the hill on the far side of the house for 10-15 minutes, very slowly. I was able to get her to do this work this past summer when I came for rehab checks.

During the hill phase, it may be more beneficial for Abby to receive laser therapy on the hill work days. This should have the effect of stimulating nerves and cellular process and often improves work ability in the older and neuro-challenged animals. In her condition, I see reason to have twice-weekly laser sessions for at least a month-I’ve had good outcomes from doing this with similar cases.

I think it would be great if you were able to just start where I suggest, as if we were beginning from scratch, and let’s see the progress that comes from scripted protocol and collaborative effort. She won’t improve from this point if she keeps doing the same walks and leads the same life she has been leading for the past many months…the body stagnates, and the same happens for humans as well. Our brains aim toward conservation while our bodies are able to do more. I believe, based on my experience that is also based on years of research, that we will see strength and muscle gains if you start here again. I suggest we review in one month after these exercises have been completed. I will then revise the protocol and change the challenges.

Thanks!

Blessings-

Deborah January, 2013

MASSAGE, NUTRITION, NSAIDS, ICE, HEAT, AND MUSCLE RECOVERY

Intense Exercise, Muscle Soreness, Recovery, and Anti-inflammatories

Rehab Deb’s Comments: One of the most important bits of this report is something I’ve been reading in more and more research: nsaids (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) delay or stop the healing process. I have also read several reports regarding the same outcome using ice. Nsaids in animal medicine include Previcox, Peroxicam, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Metacam, etc…and for humans include Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Tylenol, Aspirin, Aleve (sodium naproxen), etc…Does this mean to cut them out altogether? NO…it means think about the application, and possibly combine smaller doses of several pain relievers, depending on the issue, rather than higher and continuous doses of nsaids or only nsaids.

This is only one suggestion.

Ultimately the pain relief drugs for your pet should be discussed with the medical practitioner who prescribed the meds or will be prescribing them in the first place. There are other reasons to minimize nsaids and instead use Tramadol and/or Gabapentin and/or other analgesics to alleviate pain for the short run. The primary reason would be to better encourage building muscle to support damaged joints.

Many practitioners are aware of the benefits of using these other drugs, and while they may not know about this more recent news regarding nsaids delaying healing and muscle growth, it should be easy for anyone to find research papers in addition to those listed on this website.

Article from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health E-Zine
May 6, 2012

HOW TO RECOVER FROM MUSCLE SORENESS CAUSED BY INTENSE EXERCISE:

Muscle soreness should be part of every exercise program.  If you don’t exercise intensely enough on one day to have sore muscles on the next, you will not gain maximum fitness and you are also losing out on many of the health benefits of exercise. The benefits of exercise are much greater with intense exercise than with casual exercising.

You must damage your muscles to make them grow and become stronger.  When muscles heal, they are stronger than they were before you damaged them. All athletes train by “stressing and recovering”. On one day, they take a hard workout in which they feel their muscles burning. Eight to 24 hours after they finish this intense exercise, their muscles start to feel sore. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Then they take easy workouts until the soreness is gone, which means that their muscles have healed.

DOMS is caused by muscle damage:

Muscles are made up of fibers. The fibers are made up of a series of protein blocks called sarcomeres that are lined in a long chain. When you stretch a muscle, you stretch apart the sarcomeres in the chain. When sarcomeres are stretched too far, they tear.  Your body
treats these tears in the same way that it treats all injuries, by a process called inflammation.  Eight to 24 hours after an intense workout, you suffer swelling, stiffness and pain.

The most beneficial  intense exercise program  is:
* severe enough to cause muscle pain on the next day, and
* usually allows you to recover almost completely within 48 hours.

Active, not passive recovery:

When athletes feel soreness in their muscles, they rarely take days off.  Neither should you. Keeping sore muscles moving makes them more fibrous and tougher when they heal, so you can withstand greater forces and more intense workouts on your hard days.  Plan to go at low intensity for as many days as it takes for the soreness to go away. Most athletes try to work out just hard enough so that they recover and are ready for their next hard workout in 48 hours.

Timing meals to recover faster:

You do not need to load extra food to recover faster. Taking in too much food fills your muscle cells with fat, and extra fat in cells blocks the cell’s ability to take in and use sugar. Sugar is the main source of energy for your muscles during intense exercise. Using sugar to drive your muscles helps them to move faster and with more strength. Timing of meals is more important than how much food you eat. Eating protein- and carbohydrate-containing foods helps you recover faster, and the best time to start eating is as soon as you finish a hard workout.

At rest, muscles are inactive. Almost no sugar enters the resting muscle cell from the bloodstream (J. Clin. Invest. 1971;50: 2715-2725). Almost all cells in your body usually require insulin to drive sugar into their cells. However during exercise your muscles (and your brain) can take sugar into their cells without needing insulin.  Exercising muscles are also incredibly sensitive to insulin and take up sugar into their cells at a rapid rate.  This effect lasts maximally for up to an hour after you finish exercising and disappears almost completely in around 17 hours.

The best time to eat for recovery is when your cells are maximally responsive to insulin, and that is within a short  time after you finish exercising. Not only does insulin drive sugar into muscle cells, it also drives in protein building blocks, called amino acids.  The sugar replaces the fuel for muscle cells. The protein hastens repair of damaged muscle.  Waiting to eat for more than an hour after finishing an intense workout delays recovery.

What to eat after your intense workouts:

Fatigue is caused by low levels of sugar, protein, water and salt.  You can replace all of these with ordinary foods and drinks. If you are a vegetarian, you can replace your protein with combinations of grains and beans. You can replace carbohydrates by eating
virtually any fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. A recovery meal for a vegetarian could include corn, beans, water, bread, and fruits, nuts and vegetables.  If you prefer animal tissue, you can get your protein from fish, poultry,or meat. Special sports drinks and sports supplements offer no advantage whatever over regular foods.

Body Massage:

Many older studies have shown that massage does not help you recover faster from DOMS. Recently, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario showed that deep massage after an intense workout causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria (Science Translational Medicine, published online Feb, 2012). This is amazing. Enlarging and adding mitochondria can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and even prevent heart attacks and certain cancers.

NSAIDS delay DOMS recovery:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may help relieve pain, but they also can block muscle repair and delay healing.

Hot Baths:

Most research shows that a hot bath is not much better than doing nothing in helping muscles recover from exercise (European Journal of Applied Physiology, March 2006)

(RehabDeb’s comment: On the other hand, Epsom Salts Soak/Bath works well for humans and the dogs and cats I’ve encouraged toward that therapy. Of course, this is more than “just” a hot bath…)

Cold or ice baths:

A recent review of 17 small trials, involving 366 participants, showed a minor decrease in DOMS with ice water baths.  They found “little quality research” on the subject and “no consistent method of cold water immersion” (Cochrane Library, published online February 15, 2012). Cold water immersion can reduce swelling associated with injury, but has not been proven to speed the healing of DOMS.

(RehabDeb’s comment: ice baths are proved to be beneficial and instrumental in reversing back spasms!)

Revised 8-1-14