Sling Supported Walking is a means by which to assist your pet (the patient) during rehabilitation following various orthopedic or neurologic surgical procedures or injuries.
The idea behind sling walking is to support and protect the rear and rear limbs (back legs) of your pet. You do not want to lift the rear end off the ground, but rather provide enough support so that your pet feels some weight on their rear legs and feet, and MOST IMPORTANTLY does not slip or fall while ambulating. Depending upon the injury, or surgery, you may be asked to do nothing more with the sling then use it to help slow your pet down and prevent slipping. In more complicated or severe injuries, or post-op surgery situations, the sling will be very useful in helping your pet to get up, move around and even perform bathroom duties.
Strengthening exercises content we are adding:
The exercises listed below are intended to help your pet develop strength, weight-bearing, and balance in their operated limb(s) during the postoperative period. Because our canine companions are talented athletes and very adaptive, they usually have no problem walking on three legs; therefore, we often have to “re-educate” them on how to use their injured or operated leg.
- “Cookies” to the opposite (contralateral) hip. Hold a treat or special snack (cookie) to the opposite hip area, this will encourage the patient to turn their head and neck to that side and thus shift weight to the operated side.
- “Weight Shifts” front to Gently lift the opposite forelimb off the ground, therefore, shifting weight to the opposite rear limb and facilitating increased weight bearing.
- Backward walking for increased joint sense, hip/stifle extension and
- “Step-overs” to increase flexion/extension
- Practice “Sit to Stands” with foot tucked under buttocks in a “normal” manner (takes the place of passive range of motion).
- “Incline Stands” place front paws on a small uphill incline or step, about a 30-degree incline. Hold for 5-10 counts; then take feet off This exercise shifts weight to the rear limbs.
- “Side Shifts” gently push the patient from side to side at the hips, then push the patient’s opposite shoulder to the opposite hip.
- “Counter-irritants” place a small marble, pebble, bottle cap, or syringe cap between the pads of a foot in a non-operated leg and tape this object in place (sometimes just a piece of tape around the foot works well). Then take your pet for a directed 5-10 minute walk on a leash. The counter-irritant between the pad on a good foot will promote weight shifting to the operated leg. Remove the irritant immediately after the walk.