It has now been 2 weeks since Yarpen had the stem cells injected. We have finished the initial after-care period, and he is now allowed a little more movement. We have had 5 (of 6) laser sessions, with one left for next week. I am now starting to really accept the improvement I’m seeing. His energy levels are through the roof compared to before. I guess only now that he has improved I am fully appreciating the state he was in before… It was easy to miss it, as the deterioration was so gradual. He is more active, happier, wants to play both with the puppy and me, picks up toys and enjoys his life again. I would say that the stem cell therapy turned us to the point we were about 2-3 years ago.
At the moment the cells are still multiplying and implanting, so even though it’s incredibly tempting to just start on muscle building exercises, we need to be very careful. The main muscle building will be achieved during under-water treadmill sessions, but I am not entirely sure when we will be starting this, we will follow our vet’s advice on this. We have however seen our physiotherapist.
Please, do not attempt any of the exercises I am writing about in this and other posts without consulting a professional first. Physiotherapy is a great, great tool, but it’s not just about teaching a dog new tricks/movements. The main point are for the dog to be asked only what he can achieve at his current level and making sure that the movement is carried out by proper muscles, at appropriate speed. Pushing things not only won’t achieve any results, but can in fact make the dog worse.
As we are still letting the joint settle, we are not doing anything which would put too much strain on it. The first exercise we did during our session was a “simple” posture correction, with the use of platforms/steps. As Yarpen’s right hip is worse, he tends to stand with his right foot closer under the body. This makes his body asymmetrical, with muscles being inappropriately activated even when he is just standing. Further, we are working on slow and mindful movement. For example I am going to try and slow down his backing away (only a few steps at a time), so he is very aware how far each foot is moving. We are also working on his front paw targeting by using pods. I am now starting to teach him the basics of lateral movement as well. He’s never done that before, but is catching on very well. The final exercise we have started before the procedure is nose target to hip and toes. It activates his core muscles. Before the procedure he was able to reach the target on a lure. As we have now taken a few steps back in difficulty of exercises, I have decided to work a little on replacing the lure with a hand target. It’s not easy, as even though Yarpen has a pretty good maintained target (his nose touching my hand), by chance we have never worked on a moving target. This means that I am asking for far less movement, e.g. instead of asking him to target his hip with his nose, I only “pull” his head on a hand target to about 90 degrees each side. At the same time, as I take the lure out he is far more level headed (rather than just trying to get to the lure).