Today is day 55 post-abdominal surgery, which makes tomorrow the start of week 8. This week in class Rainey jumped 10 inches, and we left behind caution and ran! There is no bad news to report, as she ran as swift and accurate as she ever as! Maybe the only negative is she’s extremely fast right now! Her weaves are like she never left them! Fast, accurate, and distance! Her A Frame is actually slightly better than before, with her hitting the contact zone more accurately. Overall, she hasn’t missed a step when it comes to her favorite sport!
This week we are going to discuss the Assisi Loop! Assisi Loop, Clinica Bed, and the Loop Lounge are developed from the same technology targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy to tPEMF. Assisi products are a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical healing device that utilizes low-level pulses of energy, reducing pain and swelling, while accelerating healing. PEMF products have been an FDA-cleared medical device since the 1970’s, and the first knowledge about electromagnetic induction was in 1800! It was in the 1950’s that scientists dived deeper into the technology of PEMF. In 1970 Arthur A. Pilla, PhD developed a low-powered PEMF device that was later approved by the FDA for the healing of nonunion bone fractures, noting that PEMF signals could be adjusted to target bones and increase their healing in non-healing fractures. In 1998 PEMF was approved for use in urinary incontinence and muscle stimulation by the FDA.
How Assisi technology is different than the other brands available is it uses a specifically tuned microcurrent to deliver its patented tPEMF™ to damaged cells, triggering an animal’s own natural anti-inflammatory process. The electromagnetic signal that Assisi uses is one-one-thousandth the strength of a cell phone. This signal simulates cellular repair by enhancing the binding of calcium with calmodulin, which in turn accelerates the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has several beneficial effects on wound healing, including its influence on angiogenesis, inflammation, cell proliferation, matrix deposition, and remodeling. Therefore, the Assisi product uses microcurrents to stimulate the body to heal ITSELF by stimulating nitric oxide production. The Assisi tPEMF™ signal is the only purposely designed PEMF product to deliver the largest effective dose of electromagnetic signal to the nitric oxide signaling pathway.
In general, the benefits of tPEMF™ are plenty, and include increased blood flow to tissue site, enhanced muscle function, increased bone healing, blood oxygenation, decreased inflammation and pain, and accelerated recovery post-surgery or injury. Assisi products can be used for nearly any injury or recovery. In my practice, the most common injury I use them for is neck injuries. They are extremely easy to apply, as you can just place the Loop through the dog’s neck. They wear it like a necklace while their 15-minute treatment takes place, and then it automatically shuts off. Post-op ACL surgeries are also a fabulous use for Loops. Not only will they speed bone healing, but they will help with the soft tissue repair and healing as well.
The treatment schedule for a Loop depends on the injury, but typically it is recommended to apply the product every 2.5 to 3 hours for the first week. This will allow the body time to respond and recover, as well as the battery on the Loop to recharge. As the injury becomes less severe, the frequency of treatments can become less. Typically, after week 1 or 2, frequency can be decreased to 2-3 times per day. Once the patient is in maintenance mode and no longer in acute pain, treatments can be once daily or 2-3 times per week. For best results, it’s ideal to maintain once daily for chronic issues. If your pet has multiple areas of pain or discomfort, you can either use two Loops or a Loop Lounge, which is their bed. A few years when I had my standard schnauzer Stone, despite being an old man, I could not, for the life of me, get him to lay still for 15 minutes on my Assisi Clinica Bed. Instead, I used two Loops – one around his neck and one around his pelvis. Another fact about the Loop – the PEMF is emitted 10 inches on either side of the device. It cones out, like a football, therefore it is not a 10-inch square rectangle, but instead a cylinder type appearance. This worked great for Stone, and for Rainey it encompasses almost her entire body! Each Loop costs $299 and lasts for 150 uses. This breaks down to $1.99 per use, or $9.95 per day for acute injuries when you are applying every 3 hours during waking hours. Honestly, there is not much that you can get for that cost and that efficacy. Other common uses for a Loop are laminitis in horses, wound repair, urinary incontinence, soft tissue strain, abdominal surgery, oral surgery (unlike laser a Loop is safe around the eyes), certain cancers, etc. Honestly, the list goes on. Aside from its plentiful uses, the other reason I love the Loop is it is something owners can do at home. Not only does it give owners some control over their pet’s care, but they can see the changes and benefits directly.
Day 49 to 55 – Continuing to Build Skills & Muscle
As we progress in our agility training, I continue to keep things interesting in the exercise training. This week was very hectic for me, and I wanted to badly to skip a day. Life gets busy and things get placed on the back burner. But I knew I had this blog to write, and I knew I had to post a photo of our exercise board. If there were multiple days missed, I would have been very disappointed in myself. Plus, I owe it to Rainey and the other dogs to keep them in shape if I want to continue asking so much out of them physically, ie agility and scent work. In my earlier blog posts, I laid out the physical demands of our chosen sports. My dogs did not choose these sports, but they do love to do them. Would they be happy terrorizing our cats as a full-time job? Yes, I’m pretty sure they would. But our cats wouldn’t be happy. So, agility and scent work it is! If I want them to have a long, healthy career I need to do my best at keeping them healthy and in shape to perform. Someday, when I’m not rushing to write this blog at 7 pm I will go into an anatomy review and discuss how important muscles and their attachments to bones are. It is so important! Maybe week 12, or 13….For now, take my word for it that to keep your dog performing longer you MUST keep them in peak physical condition with a combination of proper diet, exercise, and supplements.
This week’s exercises revisited the old, tweaked them some, challenged Rainey some, and expanded onto some new things!
Down to Stand on a Decline – to keep things interesting I decided to add a small 4-inch incline using the FitPaws balance board and a KLIMB. The incline wasn’t extreme, but I am sure she noticed a difference! Using an incline/decline will engage muscles slightly differently and possibly engage ones that are typically not used for this exercise. This decline wasn’t so severe that she was fighting for grip on her rear end, but it was enough for her to notice.
Sit to Stand to Sit on a Decline – repeat about what I said above, with the addition that since she was going to a full sit to down the decline was a bit more noticeable for her. However, she rocked it like the champ she is!
Sprint to a Tug – this week on social media I saw some friends performing exercises with their puppies, and I thought to myself ‘why can’t we revisit puppy things and make it fun for fitness?’ So, we did! Please take note that the tug is NOT up. I repeat – DO NOT TUG YOUR DOG UP! You always want to tug the dog with a neutral neck in alignment with their spine. Combining the sprint and tug exercise gets two bangs for one buck. You are practicing speed and stopping, with a rapid change to tugging, which allows for rapid muscle engagement changes. Teaching muscles and joints to do new things under control is the best way to prevent injury! If they have seen it before they may be prepared for it when it happens unexpectedly on the course.
Lateral Side Steps on Overinflated Twin Disc – as you can see from watching this, it requires a large amount of core strength to stabilize on the disc while walking left to right with her front feet on the ground. Make sure to keep the dogs back as straight and neck neutral as possible. Slow and controlled movements will result in optimal muscle engagement!
Digging – this was an accidently trick/exercise. I was continuing to work on shake when we hit a wall. I was using the pod for her to foot target to when she started scratching at it. Then I thought well, why not teach digging! Digging is truly a full body exercise! If you watch the video, once she gets going with both feet her shoulders are engaged and working hard, her core is working to stabilize her back and body, and her rear end is in engaged holding her still. The thing you cannot easily appreciate is how well digging works to strengthen the flexor and extensor tendons of the front limbs! What are those, you ask! Those are tendons that allow their tiny legs and digits to remain upright. They work against each other to maintain proper balance and structure. Keeping these strong and flexible, but not overworked, is important for maintain the proper motion and function of the limbs (back legs have them too, and they are worked during things like tug when they dig their feet into the ground). Also, think of an agility dog (or any dog that runs and turns quickly). Their toes literally grip into the ground as they turn. This comment can totally take me down the rabbit hole of dew claws. Research has proven in recent years that dogs actually use their dewclaws to in turning. They are not just there to be an annoyance factor. They serve a purpose, and it’d be best if they were left attached to puppies. Digging can turn out to be a great exercise in a controlled environment!
Peanut Roll & Jump – I finally found a use for the Cloud! I use it for a read end strengthening and power exercise for my minis. It’s the perfect size for them. The idea of this exercise is similar to what you saw in the pyramid exercise or elevated stands – weight is shifted to the rear and the head is slowly turned side to side to shift weight from left rear to right rear, giving small engagements to different core muscles. Then the dog faces center and from a stand still launches over the object. If a dog was too weak to perform this exercise, they would likely need to take 1 to 2 steps on top of the Cloud as they pass over. As you can see in the video, Rainey barely touches the Cloud as she passes over.
Back Up Over Cavaletti – what you are seeing here is the very beginnings of an exercise for Rainey. Her antics are almost comical as she tries to back up, hitting the cone. The point of this exercise is to teach further foot awareness on all limbs, as well as work the joints at different heights/flexion/extension while backing up. This provides a new/novel stimulus for the dog. Again, introducing something new in a controlled environment in hopes that when they see something similar in rear life their body can respond appropriately.
As I wrap up this week’s post, I want to take a minute to point out Rainey’s progress. The photo listed here is a chest comparison from today to 3 weeks ago on 2-14-2021. I hope you can appreciate how much muscle Rainey has put on in just 3 weeks’ time, simply due to a focused, targeted strength training program! Her chest is not as hallow and her neck and shoulders are slightly thicker. Her side profile is also greatly improved in the accompanying photo showing today from 6 weeks prior, which was 2 weeks post-op. Look how much you can accomplish with your dog if you take just 10 minutes a day 4-5 days per week! It is so worth it to see these changes!
Rainey continues to build power, speed, and strength! This week she will move back up to her regular jump height of 12 inches, and in a few weeks, we return to the competition ring. I couldn’t be happier with her progress! I hope anyone reading this has learned a little along the way. I intend to expand on Tui-na massage and a more in-depth lesson on anatomy and why things matter or why we recommend what we do for our sport dogs. We have 5 more blog posts, as I promised a 12-week series. Hopefully I can keep coming up with new exercises and helpful information for you!
The road to recovery is long, and sometimes there are setbacks, but the time it takes to get there will always be worth it!
Take care and may the Qi flow freely for you!
Dr. Shantel Julius, DVM, CCRP, CVA, fCoAC, CVSMT, CVFT, CVTP, CVCH, CTCVMP