“This was one of those collaborative cases where every step you take, you’re talking to everyone on the case,” says Sasha Foster, a physical therapist who switched from working with humans to animal patients. She and technician Laura Southworth helped Boone get back on his feet, literally. And like every patient that comes to the hospital, Boone gave students a chance to learn.
During an early physical therapy session, Foster gently touches Boone along his spine. “If you tell us where it hurts, Boone, we’ll make it feel better. He still has pain on his sacrum,” says Foster as she shows a student how to feel for discomfort. “Angela, isn’t that cool? A nice patellar reflex. Boone, you’re a good teacher.”
Angela Abbott, a fourth-year veterinary student, sets up poles between orange traffic cones, just a few inches off the floor. She leads Boone to step over a pole while Foster watches, assessing how he puts weight on his back feet. He’s favoring the right leg and at times his toes fold under, rather than extending normally.
Next, laser therapy and electrical stimulation relieve pain and help Boone’s damaged tissue heal. “This is the cool part,” says Foster, as she places dark glasses over Boone’s eyes to protect them from the laser. “After five to seven minutes of the TENS unit, the dogs just melt. It’s the exact same technology that’s used on humans.”