Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations

While on our travels, we were able to continue Cookie's physical therapy at a local clinic. I was very happy about that because we ended up being gone for a month which would otherwise mean Cookie missing out on therapy for all that time.

As part of their services, the clinic offers stance analysis using pressure pads.

I wrote about this earlier as a great tool to evaluate how much pressure is a dog putting on each of the limbs, helping to pinpoint lameness and favoring which could otherwise be invisible to plain observation. The one cited in that article is a much fancier and more complex piece of equipment, though.

This is the one the clinic has. Image PetSafe

It's a high-tech evaluation.

I was quite excited about what we're going to learn from that. Force plates, dog gait analysis mats and pressure pads are a few products out there available for this purpose.

As great as it sounds on paper, seeing it in action didn't look all that pretty.

Initially, the pad was against the wall in such a way that Cookie had to walk on it, than turn around and stand on it facing away from the wall with each leg precisely in the right section of the pad.

She got on there and turned around but couldn't possibly understand where exactly each foot should land and why. The end result of that was that the tech was manually moving her legs in attempt to place them in the correct positions on the mat. Cookie allowed her legs being moved around but was pretty confused by all that not knowing which leg to stand on. The positions she ended up at looked nothing like a normal, or even abnormal dog stance.

Think playing Twister.

I then suggested turning the pad around so Cookie could walk on it normally, rather than having to turn around. This worked better but she still didn't understand that she has to get and stop right in the center. So yet again, her legs ended up being moved up to the right places with her stance ending up looking everything but natural.

How much reliable information can one gain from that?

I honestly don't know. We did this several times and the machine then averages the values. That probably helps getting some more comprehensible information. But still ...

Both evaluations showed what were expected, more pressure being put on the front than the back end and more pressure being put on the right than on the left side. However, from what I saw, Cookie always ended up walking onto the right-hand-side sections and it was the left legs than were being moved into position.

While the results seemed to confirm what was suspected, were they really?

Or was it just a function of the part of the mat Cookie was consistently ending up on?

Perhaps a bit of both.

I actually think that having the dog walk onto it from one end to the other, rather than having to turn around was the right idea. But getting them dead center is still a challenge.

I wonder if creating some kind of a "walk through" which would keep the dog in the center would help improve accuracy.

Similarly to what one does what teaching a dog backing up in a straight line.

It would need to be light and adjustable depending on the size of the dog and it would have to not interfere with the pad itself. Perhaps something such as the cavaletti cones except the poles would need to be longer. Or just something a self-standing pole on each end with some fabric or light construction fencing between.

Having seen how contorted Cookie always ended up makes me wonder how reliable the data we gained really are.

Having said that, the vet was very happy with the way Cookie looked overall.

She was so impressed with how Cookie's legs were working that she's looking into platelet rich plasma therapy. While I'm seeing some issues with Cookie's gait under certain circumstance, she walks and trots very well using both hind legs equally. Possibly, according to the vet as well as Cookie's physical therapist the degree of favoring the hind left leg during certain movement might have to do more with Cookie not really trusting the leg rather than the leg not functioning properly. I certainly hope so.

Meanwhile we'll continue working at it as see where it takes us.

Do you have any experience with such stance analysis done for your dog? How did it work for you?

Related articles:

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy 
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update


Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from yo

2 comments

  1. I've never heard of it, and it's never been suggested to me. Of course with Sampson, we do know which legs he is favoring.

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    Replies
    1. It's not necessarily to find out which is the bad leg but more to monitor improvement, treatment response etc.

      The type referenced in the article linked from here is better and more reliable. This one I'm not sure about at all, having seen it in action.

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