Six years ago, Nuka was a three-year-old Akita who after a string of injuries found himself needing surgery and Rehab therapy to heal. And in an effort to avoid a second surgery, Nuka inspired his rehab therapist to go above and beyond to help. Going so far as to develop a hip brace custom made to fit Nuka’s condition to help him on the road to recovery and improved mobility.
Post-Op Rehab Therapy
When Nuka came to rehab, he was two weeks post TPLO surgery on his right rear leg. His surgery had gone well, but Nuka was struggling. He was on pain medication, and with atrophied muscles, Nuka could only partially bear weight on his right hind leg. Additionally, he also suffered from Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI). Nuka needed to build up strength and help heal, his surgeon recommended rehab sessions twice a week for four weeks.
Hip Subluxation Diagnosis
Two weeks into therapy, Nuka’s hip started making a “popping” sounds when he walked. Although there were no signs of pain, Nuka had trouble getting up from a laying down position and his hind legs crossed when doing so. Nuka’s surgeon determined that the “popping” noise was due to a Sub-luxated right hip.
At the time, the options for dealing with his Hip Subluxations were limited. Either Nuka endured a Total Hip Replacement (THR) on his right back leg, or he needed to extend his TPLO rehab and hope it improves.
Nuka’s owner wanted to avoid surgery and chose to finish his rehab. The therapist’s mission became clear, prevent Nuka’s hip from luxating further while also managing his CVI symptoms. But where to start? Braces were discussed, but the only option available was an expensive custom Orthotic. Custom braces time and money to order and Nuka couldn’t wait he needed immediate hip support.
What is a hip subluxation? Subluxation is a dislocation or partial separation of the joint – in Nuka’s case the subluxation is in the hip where the femur head separates from the hip joint.
A Hip Brace Solution for Nuka
Nuka’s therapist Renee Mills was inspired. Renee developed an affordable brace solution to support the right hip. The Hip-EEZ Support System and Hip-EEZ Bridge were created at home with materials Renee had laying around. She placed the Hip-EEZ Bridge sat directly over the right Femoral Head and when the brace is secured it applied direct pressure down and in on the Femoral Head. This was enough support to minimize the Sub-luxation and allow rehab for the TPLO and now Hip Sub-luxation to continue. Upping his therapy to twice a week for twelve weeks, Nuka had rehab for the TPLO recovery and worked to build as much muscle around the hip region to support and hopefully avoid a THR surgery.
Nuka’s Therapy Plan
Over the course of 12 weeks, Nuka wore the Hip-EEZ during all land-based exercises and immediately applied after his underwater treadmill sessions. At home, Nuka wore the Hip-EEZ during all walks at home and most of the day and only removed at bedtime.
Nuka’s Regimen Included:
- Laser Therapy
- Biscuit Bends (for the neck)
- Cone Weaving
- Weight Shifting
- Underwater treadmill sessions
No More Hip “Popping”
Nuka’s surgeon checked in after four weeks of therapy and she was impressed with what she saw. The Hip-Subluxation began to occur less frequently when walking and when wearing his hip brace there was no more “popping”. And the right hip didn’t Sub-luxate at all.
By the twelfth and final week of rehab, Nuka was rechecked by the orthopedic surgeon to discuss progress and next steps. She watched him walk without the Hip-EEZ brace on, and no “popping” was heard. Nuka’s physical exam revealed that Hip-Subluxation was gone!
Impressed, the surgeon recommended slowly returned Nuka to normal activity and continued wearing of the Hip-EEZ as a precaution. Through his therapy, Nuka had even rebuilt muscle mass in right hind leg had rebuilt frame and the TPLO site was completely healed.
Four years after his right hip injury Nuka was injured again. This time he tore the left CCL. Prior to surgery his owner requested the surgeons order hip radiographs to assess the right hip. She was concerned with his history and was afraid of a possible repeat injury after this TPLO surgery. Radiographs were completed of both hips and the results shocked everyone. There were no sign of injury or arthritis. There was no indication that Nuka had ever injured the right hip!
Now over six year later, Nuka continues to do well today and is clinical proof that the Hip-EEZ brace can aide dogs, especially large dogs with mild to moderate hip sub-luxation injuries. Thanks to Nuka, and his inspiration for the Walkin’ Hip-EEZ Support System now thousands of dogs will be able to get the hip support they so desperately need.
To follow the entire medical case and treatment plan from start to finish, read Nuka’s entire case study.
Renee Mills, VT, CCRP
Renee Mills is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner and Veterinary product specialist.