Bernese Mountain Dog Rahni was referred to the Neurology and Neurosurgery department at Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies) for investigations when she suffered sudden onset paralysis. The three-year-old family pet had to be carried into the referral hospital as an emergency patient but two weeks later, following diagnosis of a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) and intensive rehabilitation, she was able to walk out, unaided.
Rahni was out walking with her owners when she suddenly became paralysed and couldn’t move her legs. Her owners rushed her to their local veterinary practice and she was immediately referred as an emergency to Alex Forward, Neurology Specialist at Davies in Hertfordshire.
“Her neurological examination was consistent with a spinal cord injury in the lower part of her neck, preventing her from being able to walk for herself,” explains Alex.
“An emergency MRI scan revealed a change to her spinal cord most consistent with a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). This occurs after a blood vessel becomes blocked and focally deprives the spinal cord of oxygen for a short period of time. The blockage is caused by fibrocartilaginous material thought to come from an intervertebral disc.”
A fibrocartilaginous embolism is a non-surgical condition, unlike an intervertebral disc extrusion (slipped disc) which often requires surgical decompression.
Rahni stayed at Davies for just over two weeks for intensive specialised nursing, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy at the practice’s stare-of-the-art Therapy and Fitness Centre, with Alex monitoring progress.
Typically, FCE affects one side of the body more than the other and in Rahni’s case it was her left side, where her paw placement was absent and prevented her from being able to use her front leg at all. During her rehabilitation, the team focused treatment on Rahni’s left side encouraging her to use the affected front leg as much as possible to ensure she would eventually be able to walk for herself again.
Sarah Conley, chartered physiotherapist said: “Rahni had physiotherapy sessions one to two times a day, working through a range of static and dynamic activities to optimise her independent function and control. She also received a range of manual treatments to maintain comfort during her recovery. Initially she wasn’t very keen on the underwater treadmill but with her favourite pink dinosaur toy, she soon became happier in the water and performed her daily hydrotherapy sessions well.”
Rahni steadily improved and was able to walk to her owner’s car unaided when she was discharged just over two weeks later.
“Our team of chartered physiotherapists and hydrotherapists continue to see Rahni every two or three weeks to improve her mobility,” said Alex. “Her long-term prognosis is good and we fully expect her to continue to improve and walk well in the future.”
To find out more about Davies and their multi-disciplinary approach to patient care visit: www.vetspecialists.co.uk