I wanted to find out as many specifics as possible from those of you who have done hydrotherapy and/or physiotherapy following these symptoms. I have read most of the forums on the topic on the site, and want to start some PT to aid in his recovery and learning to use his legs again, but felt that I needed a little more step by step instructions on the water therapy and any other therapy that anyone has found useful in this type of situation. Has anyone done physical therapy with their guinea pig? If so, I will take as many specifics as you can offer, please.
His legs are not dead, he is still has some nerve function I can tell by the movement he has displayed, I just feel like the right PT would really benefit him. Thank you!
We have not dealt with paralysis in acute or chronic form, but have used hydrotherapy and physical therapy to help with comfort, movement and muscle tone for arthritic condition. Our therapy, however, was not guided by certified professionals, but from limited knowledge gained from some past experience or from instinct. Do you have trained persons in your area who have worked with guinea pigs?
With hydrotherapy, a pig would need to be very comfortable in warm water, and well-supported. If not comfortable, he could make sudden movements or become tense, which would be counterproductive or possibly harmful. So you would want to determine if water would be a good choice for Brownie.
In your situation, I would be cautious with movement of the spine if there could be residual swelling or weakness, and if alignment issue still exists. Some have talked of seeing a chiropractor for alignment issues. It would be important to know if there are any nerves that could be further damaged by certain movements so you are avoiding too much movement of these areas. I incorporate massage therapy to help with circulation of blood and nutrients to the affected areas.
Encouraging him to use body parts the way that he normally would is usually safer initially. I have had our boys move, without my handling, by presenting a hidey area just ahead of them that they will usually want to walk to (ie a blanket overhang). Occasionally, new presentation of hay or food/treat will encourage walking.
You'll probably want to watch skin to be sure pressure sores do not develop, and might provide softer blanket underneath to help protect the tissue.
A few thoughts, maybe not as precise as what you are needing for Brownie, but did want to share a little from our experience here.
- Supporter in 2014
Getting him to walk is no problem, because he can actually run around really fast using his other three legs, but getting him to use the one that is the weakest is a little more challenging, because I think it is just easier for him to drag right now than to try to use it. But I can already see a lot of atrophy and I just want to find the best ways to encourage use and exercise.
I will try some massage of the area and maybe just some manual range of motion kind of movements with him. Please let me know if anyone has any more ideas. Thank you all!
The cases of paralysis that I know of, and which have been treated succesfully, were not results of spinal injury, however, but trauma to the leg nerve, and specifically, a side effect of botched injections in lab cavies.
The other exercise that I did when he wasn't really using his back legs very much was something I had seen done with a dog that was paralyzed in his hind legs. They kind of put the dog's front legs and torso on a yoga type ball and encouraged him to push over it. I didn't have a guinea pig sized yoga ball so I just held his upper body off the ground a couple inches, with both hands under his belly, and put his hind legs on the ground to encourage him to push off and over my hand.
He still has a ways to go to be 100%, but I think a lot of that is probably due to atrophy and now that he has regained use, the muscles will strengthen with time. Thanks all for your input and support.