Case study: Kip
Kip was an active, fit and healthy working sheepdog who regularly rounded up hundreds of sheep on her farm, and also competed successfully at agility, reaching the finals at Olympia 2018, one of the pinnacles of the agility world.
In August 2019 Kip suffered a traumatic injury, and sadly had to have her right hind leg amputated.
In the initial days after her surgery, Kip benefitted from manual lymphatic drainage, a specialised technique to reduce the swelling around the wound. As the wound healed, blue and red phototherapy helped to keep it free from infection and optimise the healing process, and later massage and myofascial release ensured the skin was able to move freely around the scar.
Massage was also essential to look after the rest of her body. Kip’s remaining three legs had to take a greater load, and Kip initially used her head and tail heavily for balance, resulting in painful, tight muscles in her neck, shoulders, legs, back and tail. Regular massage relieved the soreness and hypertonicity (tightness) and restored flexibility, allowing her muscles to adapt to her new posture and ways of moving without additional discomfort.
Kip tired very quickly and even standing up for any length of time was difficult. Therapeutic exercises to re-educate her proprioception and balance and build strength and stability in her core and remaining hind limb started with just a few seconds of work several times daily, always making sure Kip was supported and felt secure.
The achievements were small at first, like the first time she scratched her ear with her back leg, and the first time did a full body shake. Bigger landmarks included the first time she picked up a toy and shook it without falling over, and the first time she did a proper roll in the grass… and bounced back up!
Protecting Kip’s mental wellbeing has been important at every stage, and a huge milestone for Kip was the first time she was allowed to see sheep. It was just a few of the slower sheep, and all she did was walk up behind them, but she knew she was back in her proper job being a sheepdog. Kip has also recently tried her paw at scentwork, a low-impact activity perfect for keeping her mentally active and maintaining her strong working relationship with her owner.
Kip still has regular maintenance treatments, ensuring her body remains strong and supple, so she can be active for many more happy years.