Axel, A Case Report

Axel is a 4.5 yo M/N French bulldog who presented to Stride for a rehabilitation consultation after L3-4 right and then left hemilaminectomy procedures. He is also affected by severe bilateral hip dysplasia.

Following a diagnostic CT,  a right-sided surgical approach was performed and moderate amount of disc material removed.  Later, a radiologist’s full report of the CT found disc material present on the left side. After 48 hours Axel’s condition worsened with loss of deep pain and motor function. A left sided hemilaminectomy at L3-L4 was then performed. Due to bladder dysfunction a urinary catheter was placed and he was hospitalized for several days. On discharge from the hospital Axel continued to lack bowel and bladder control and was non-ambulatory but had recovered deep pain in his right hind.

At his evaluation at Stride, Axel exhibited pain induced reactivity as a result of his distended bladder. We cautiously proceeded with our exam, performing functional analysis and neurological testing to meet his tolerance level.  Withdrawal reflexes and conscious proprioception of bilateral pelvic limbs were absent. He was flaccid in his right hind limb and hypertonic in his left. Axel was unable to hold a sit or stand, perform functional transitions or ambulate.   

We referred him back to the emergency practice where his bladder was emptied and reiterated to his people the importance of regular bladder expression.  We also recommended a Help’EmUp harness to help both the owners and Axel with ergonomic/functional movement.

With twice weekly appointments, Axel made very good progress  – especially given how uncomfortable he was at his first visit.  Initial sessions included hydrotherapy, land treadmill, laser treatments, neuromuscular re-education and functional exercises.  Weekly acupuncture was added to his treatment protocol once he was more relaxed here.   Due to continued bowel and bladder dysfunction we continue to take appropriate measures so he can use the underwater treadmill without incident. 

Functionally, Axel can now ambulate independently with mild ataxia, and navigates more challenging functional, posture and balance exercises. His hindlimb tone has nearly normalized, his muscle strength and core stabilization have improved dramatically and he is walking in the underwater treadmill without assistance.

Rehabilitation goals as defined by his people were to “To get Axel back on his feet again and to get his life back” and they are very pleased with his progress!  Axel is a happy, functional pup at home, with a few modifications and controlled fun.  He is still showing functional gains with rehabilitation and we have included injury prevention goals as part of his plan.  We are thrilled to see him doing so well!