Canine Rehab Helps Akira
My name is Debby and my Tripawd’s name is Akira a 13 year 8 month old Shiba Inu who underwent a forelimb amputation on September 6, 2016. Akira and I have been together since she was a pup of 8 weeks when I brought her home from the breeder.
Akira was bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider in May 2016, the poison caused extreme toxicity and a tumor with the cancer eating a way at her leg bones.
While her surgery was quite successful and went smoothly we had no idea the hardest part would be afterwards. Unlike some Tripawds, Akira did not “bounce back” after a few weeks. She went 3 months having difficulty managing her pain, becoming addicted to the pain medication, having severe muscle cramping preventing her from sleeping at night, and experiencing great anxiety with from the loss of her leg.
After getting the pain management sufficiently under control we sought out a rehab specialist to help Akira to build her confidence in her new tripawd body and increase her strength and create muscular balance and flexibility.
Our primary vet referred us to Tsavo’s Rehabilitation Clinic in Del Mar, CA and specifically Maja Wichtowski, Owner, CCRT and RVT. We had our initial consultation on December 2nd, 2016 (receipt attached). We subsequently enrolled in a package of 10 therapy sessions to include water therapy, massage, and laser therapy.
At the time of this writing, Akira continues to see Maja for therapy twice a week. Akira was prescribed daily massage and stretching exercises particularly for her tricep, shoulder, bicep, and groin muscles, all of which get extremely tight due to the imbalance in the tripawd gait. Additionally, she is advised to have daily walks on grass and dirt (preferably). We also purchased an Assisi Loop which is an at-home alternative to laser therapy to help Akira with deep wound healing in the amputated limb.
Akira has made leaps and bounds in her strength from swim therapy now able to swim on her own at times without a swim vest (always closely supervised)! Her confidence in her body is wonderful and she can maneuver her body adeptly and with ease.
It would be impossible to provide only one thing that I have learned during this journey with Akira, but if I had to pick one it is the importance of realizing that life includes pain and joy and to the degree we resist pain we also miss out on joy (because we are spending our lives trying to avoid pain). Watching Akira struggle with pain, anxiety, and healing I could see how much she was afraid of the pain and I had to admit to myself that I, too, have been afraid to move my own body out of fear of pain. The best thing we can do is embrace that life includes pain, that it cannot be avoided, and to learn ways to relax into our bodies and life especially during these times to avoid suffering. Easy to say, not always easy to do. As I watch Akira get stronger from rehab and work through the anxiety she is my greatest teacher.