Case Studies

Great Dane

Inpatient – medicine service.  Great Dane with history of seizures and urinary tract infection, presented with lack of mobility – unable to sit or stand – no active movement in hind limbs, pitting edema, pressure sores, required 4-5 person assist to stand.
Rehab program: provided raised bed, hoyer lift, massage, pressure bandages, range of motion, positioning, electrical stimulation for strengthening, mobility activities and training to staff and students.
Outcome:  ability to maneuver in halls and outside with one person assist using hoyer lift, appetite improved, edema resolved, wounds improved, planned to discharge after two weeks when seizures reoccurred, family opted for euthanasia.


Alpaca – Inpatient – medicine.  Pregnant alpaca, 2-3 weeks from delivery, neurological deficits related to P. tenuis.  Presented with lack of mobility except lifting head, not eating for 3-4 days – on IV fluids, at risk for losing cria, provided with alpaca companion.
Rehab program:  provided massage, weight bearing activities, joint mobilization, Myofascial release, mobility activities in sling using overhead chain and later hoyer lift, student monitored cria with ultrasound.
Outcome:  Able to stand and walk independently without equipment, delivered a healthy cria after one week, improved appetite, return to normal function by day 10 after start of rehab program, discharged to home.

Thoroughbred Yearling

Thoroughbred yearling – Outpatient – surgery service.  Yearling stallion who experienced sudden onset of right forelimb lameness following overnight turnout.  Presented with inability to extend right elbow, marked right triceps atrophy, knuckling at the fetlock, difficulty with rising to standing position, poor balance, inability to trot or run, impaired functional skills.  No localized swelling or pain noted.  Sensation intact right forelimb.  No fractures, joint subluxations or bony lesions observed by radiographs and bone scan one month prior to PT intervention.
Rehab program:  massage, electrical stimulation, Myofascial release, stretching, cavaletti excercises, balance and coordination activities, ultrasound and behavior interventions.
Outcome:  after 3 months, the yearling gained many functional skills – able to trot, load into and out of a trailer easily, able to maneuver in small areas, able to walk up and down inclines, safe for turn out on uneven terrain, increased endurance in standing, able to stand independently.
Additional progress included:  increased weight bearing right forelimb, increased width of triceps muscle, decreased muscle spasms and improved behavior.

White Tail Deer

White tail deer – male fawn approximately 3 months old found by a farmer at edge of a hay field. The fawn moved in circles using only the forelimbs. No wounds, bleeding or obvious fractures were noted. This young animal was observed from a distance, hoping that with time it might get up without assistance. The fawn remained alert but was still unable to stand after three hours. It was wrapped in a blanket and brought to a local veterinarian. The fawn did not appear to be in shock and had no apparent fractures or internal injuries. No medication was provided. A local wildlife rehabilitator and Cornell’s exotic service were consulted for care recommendations. The fawn was housed in a horse stall with free access to hay. He was bottle fed 12 oz. of goat’s milk every 3-4 hours. By the first night it was noted that he had a good appetite and normal bowel and bladder function. It is interesting to note that at dusk, a doe came to the edge of the field and stood waiting for 15-20 minutes. It was decided to keep the fawn close to where he was found and try to release him as soon as possible.
Rehab program: range of motion, massage, weight bearing activities in a modified walker and over a straw bale, myofascial release- tail pulls, and assisted walking 2-3x each day. The fawn did not appear to be stressed with the handling involved with this program.
Outcome: On the second day, the fawn could stand independently but was not able to maintain this position. By the third day, he could stand and take a few steps. At noon on the fourth day he was walking 25 – 30 feet, could get into a standing position easily, used equal weight bearing in both back legs, demonstrated good balance and could maneuver around obstacles. On the evening of the fourth night when the doe came again, as she had each night, the fawn was carried to her slowly. Both animals vocalized frequently using low gutteral sounds. The doe allowed an approach within 10 feet of her. The fawn was released and they turned away to enter the woods together.

Burmese Mountain Dog

Inpatient – medicine and orthopedics services.  Burmese Mountain Dog that was hit by car.  Presented with lack of mobility – unable to sit or stand – no active movement either hind limb and limited active movement either forelimb, not eating – using NG tube, pelvic and femoral fracture, CCL instability, pitting edema, no bowel movements for 3 weeks.
Rehab program:  provided hoyer lift, massage, pressure bandages, mobility activities, range of motion to distal hind limbs, positioning, and training to staff and students.
Outcome:  able to sit independently, appetite improved – off NG tube, edema reduced, able to stand and take a few steps with forelimbs with 2 person assist using hoyer lift, able to move bowels effectively, discharged to home within one week.


Tortoise – Outpatient 
Radiated tortoise with right dislocated shoulder for 1-2 months.  Presented with inability to walk or maneuver around/over obstacles, unable to be on exhibit.
Rehab program:  massage, range of motion, strengthening activities, gait training with towel sling, joint approximation, staff training.
Outcome:  independent walking and turning, able to maneuver around obstacles and return to exhibit after 3 months.