Wheelchair Bound to Walking Around: How Laser Therapy Helped a Patient Regain her Mobility

Meet Lexi, a determined five-year-old dachshund, belonging to Charles and Debbie Eubanks. A wonderful rescue in Snyder, Second Chance Dog Rescue, worked with them to help bring Lexi home in 2014, and the rescue was very patient while they made sure she was a good fit for their family.

Lexi first came to Southside Animal Hospital in November of 2017 for vaccinations and be examined for back pain. She was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), which is a common problem seen in the dachshund breed. IVDD occurs when the disks that are between the vertebrae of the spine bulge or rupture and put pressure on the spinal cord. This applied pressure can cause discomfort, pain and even paralysis for the patient. Lexi was experiencing some discomfort and was prescribed a short round of anti-inflammatory pain medication. After about a week on the medicine, she was back to herself.

Lexi was doing very well until the beginning of the year, when she had to be seen at our local emergency clinic, Concho Valley Veterinary Emergency Association, because her back right leg quit working for her, and she was unable to walk. After following up with Southside the following day, it was determined that referral to a specialist with surgery was likely the best option to help Lexi regain her mobility. The use of pain management and cold laser therapy was also discussed with her owners as a possible option. They were cautioned that neither procedure was guaranteed to help her walk again, and every patient responds differently to both surgery and laser therapy. After some serious consideration, the Eubanks decided to try the cold laser therapy and pain management to see how Lexi would respond.

The laser therapy we have available at Southside works by using a cold laser (one that doesn’t cut) applied to the area of pain or inflammation. The goal is to reduce inflammation and promote the activity of healthy cells that will help with overall healing.

After a series of laser treatments and a very short hospital stay to make sure she was well hydrated, Lexi was already trying to stand up on her own and support her weight. Her owners also had a bit of a hard time confining her, because she is so adventurous. She even chewed her way out of playpen they used to keep her in a smaller space!

Lexi was fitted for a wheelchair to help her get around a little more safely, and luckily fit in a donated one that Southside already had. She only had to borrow the chair for a couple days, because by her next laser appointment she was getting around well without it.

Lexi continued her laser treatments into the beginning of February, and since finishing has been back to her old self. Her owners are very excited with the progress she has made, that she is up and walking (even running when she sneaks it in) and was able to avoid having surgery.

If you have any questions about how laser therapy might help your pet, please feel free to speak with your veterinarian. As stated earlier in the story, not all patients respond this well to laser therapy for severe IVDD that causes paralysis. Also, cold laser therapy is not a substitution for surgical management of IVDD, but it is an option that we are happy to be able to offer to our patients.

This story and photos were published with the permission of the client.