Meet Morgan! Morgan is a shepherd mix pup who received her below tarsus prosthetic device through Dr. Kern at our fantastic Michigan Partner Clinic, Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation. Morgan’s initial consult was at only 10 weeks of age, not long after she was adopted by a pair of veterinarians. Morgan was born without her distal left hind limb, below her tarsus. She would to try to walk on her stump when moving slowly, but would hold it up and hop on three legs when she wanted to go faster. Sometimes, she had a hard time getting traction with her stump, which was challenging for her. She would also to extend the tarsus/hock joint of that limb very straight, possibly in an effort to “reach” for the ground with the stump.
Everyone agreed that Morgan would be a great candidate for a prosthesis, but because of her young age and likelihood of needing multiple devices as she outgrew them, her owners opted to wait to start the prosthetic process until Morgan was closer to full grown. In the meantime, Morgan did a lot of rehabilitation at Pawsitive Steps to work on improving her core strength, balance and especially focused on flexing the tarsal joint of her residual limb. It was also very important to get her comfortable with that limb being handled to prepare her for donning and doffing of the device.
When Morgan was close to full grown, Dr. Kern did her fiberglass impression and measurements for her prosthetic device. Because of the amount of limb remaining, Morgan was borderline between making a prosthetic with a non-articulating tarsus (no motion) and an articulating one (motion allowed). Since Morgan is young and preserving as much range of motion in her tarsal joint as possible was priority, Dr. Kern and Silver (Morgan’s OrthoPets Case Manager) decided on the articulating version, with motion limiting straps available in case Morgan did not handle the articulation well.
Morgan received her device in August of 2016. Her device not only helps protect her stump and gives her good traction, but makes up the limb length discrepancy she has so that her hips can be level and her spine can stay neutral, which is very important for long-term health and comfort. Slow acclimation to the device is important to ensure the patient is using the device properly. Otherwise, they may form "bad habits" such as lifting their prosthetic limb during faster gaits, improper sitting, etc. Rehabilitation and supervised, structured, slow and steady work upon receipt of a device is important so that patients can learn good habits and become accustomed to using the device as if their prosthetic limb had been there the entire time and eventually they can tear around and play.
Great job, Morgan and family! We love your pirate style!