International Association of Animal Therapists
Case Study


Cruciate Ligament Surgery Post op physio & rehab

Bailey had weekly sessions for 3 weeks, followed by fortnightly sessions taking us up to 13 weeks.

Session 1

A full body examination and muscle measurement was undertaken.  Unsurprisingly, muscle wastage 

had occurred in her right hind.  

As with any injury or pain, compensatory issues occur so these also need to be treated.  With any 

hind limb injury we often find forelimb, pectoral and apposing leg stiffness and tension as well as 

some areas of discomfort through the back where twisting and weight shifting has occurred.

Gait was also assessed to make sure she had begun to weight bare on the operated leg but no 

intervention on gait at this stage.

Laser therapy and manual techniques were applied ensuring that muscle spasms and joint stiffness 

were relieved.  

Session 4 (5 weeks into treatment)

As usual, assessment and muscle measurement were 

initially carried out and we were pleased that the right 

hind had regained some muscle.  This indicates that 

Bailey had grown in confidence and was starting to 

weight bare through her right hind again.

In addition to manual techniques, we have also 

implemented electrotherapy in the form of 

electrostimulation.  This is a very effective way of encouraging muscle development using electrical 


Much of the stiffness and compensatory muscle discomfort has now subsided and she is feeling 

supple and flexible.

At this stage, working alongside the veterinary exercise plan, we are able to introduce more 

exercises to re-educate gait and increase strength.  

Useful exercises include – sit to stand, lie to sit to stand, lifting the opposing leg off the ground for a 

few seconds to make the affected leg hold weight, pushing the back end off balance make then right 

themselves, controlled step work and walking in circles.  These exercises must be prescribed by the 

vet or therapist at an appropriate time of rehabilitation.  Too much too soon can have catastrophic 


Session 7 (11 weeks into treatment)

Bailey has continued to improve well with her muscle balance through her hind limbs now almost 

level and she is fully weight bearing.  She is walking 3 times a day, on the lead, for 25 minutes, doing 

her strengthening exercises and has been having regular hydrotherapy sessions.

A full physiotherapy treatment was performed and further gait assessment.  One key indication of 

knee / stifle pain is for animals to stick their legs out rather than tuck them neatly underneath them.  

As you can see from the pictures below, she is comfortably flexing her knee correctly, however, it 

remains slightly in front of the left hind so further work is needed in this area.

Session 8 (13 weeks into treatment)

A full physiotherapy treatment and gait analysis shows significant improvement and well balanced 

muscles through her hind limbs.  She is walking out sound and confidently using her right hind.

Exercises will continue up to 6 months post op, undertaken by the owner.  A follow up 

physiotherapy treatment will be arranged at the 6 month mark to ensure there have been no 

changes in gait, joint and muscle health.

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