Lesson 4 – Movement abnormalities

Let’s have a look at some movement abnormality.   On the following slide is a slow motion video that shows a gait abnormality resulting from dysfunction.  Changes are not always obvious to see at first but even subtle changes can be seen when the footage is slowed down.  

Correction of these abnormalities through physiotherapy and retraining of gait and neuromuscular patterns with exercise rehabilitation will improve quality of life and pain free movement and reduce the chance of injury. 

TASK: Watch the video numerous times and make notes about what you see before you move on.

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Some of things going on in this case:

  • Low flight arc – the hind limbs do not lift very much off the floor and almost drag
  • Poor flexion of the of the hindlimb joints – hence why we see the low flight arc
  • It can be seen that the spine is held in flexion (rounded) and the head is carried low
  • Very weak hind end muscles – visual evidence of poor muscle mass and lack of joint support – look closely at the stifle area on both sides and you can see the lack of support with marked lateral excursion of the stifles; the joints are vulnerable and the ligaments trying to hold them in place are under too much strain!
  • Low tail carriage

If we can improve joint range of movement and strength and support of the muscles you can see how much we could help this case!

Key points

  • Dysfunction usually occurs in the run up to injury
  • Correction of dysfunction and gait abnormality can reduce the occurrence of injury
  • The patient is usually presented to the veterinary practice when he/she becomes  injured 
  • For injury, veterinary intervention includes surgery and medication.  Physiotherapy intervention includes: 
    • Electro physical agents (to promote healing and reduce pain)
    • Massage and range of movement (to promote healing,  reduce pain and optimise movement)
  • As soon as injury and pain is managed, exercise rehabilitation can begin to:
    • Promote healing
    • Encourage straightness and correct movement patterns 
    • Restore strength and range of movement