Since the vet confirmed that Truman's pelvic bone has healed, I have begun more intensive physical therapy with him. This involves several things. First off, I hold him on his back and move his leg up and down. I begin by testing on his good leg to check how far it should normally move. Then I repeat the same on his bad leg. I apply mild be definite pressure as it is this that stretches and exercises the muscles. Other exercises include side to side motions of the leg, step ups, and now also wave trick.
I have been doing progressively more and more step ups with Truman every day. Not only am I encouraging him to step up, but I am also alternating between stepping with the good leg first or the bad leg. Either way, at one point he must hold his entire weight on one leg but by alternating which leg goes first, it effects the muscle groups that are being worked. He seems to prefer to step with his bad leg first so I am trying to force more step ups with the good leg first by putting my finger specifically in front of that leg.
Truman's reward for these exercises is predominantly negative reinforcement. I am forcefully applying the exercise upon him but stop at a random time if he is cooperative. Since it requires little positive behavior on his own part, it is mainly a matter of him not resisting. Since he is used to being handled, this is not too stressful for him and he just needs to endure for a little while and then knows I will stop. I am also providing praise and petting as a mild positive reinforcement upon completion. I do fewer repetitions but repeat frequently throughout the day.
Finally, the first major sign of recovery is that I was able to retrain Truman to wave again. For a month and a half he did not wave because it would force him to put all of his weight on his bad leg which he could not do. But with the good news from the vet, I decided to try to get him to wave now. I realized that it may take longer to train it again this time not because he would have forgotten the trick but because he would need to recover strength in his leg to be able to stand this way.
At first the training progress was slow and he wouldn't even so much as try to lift the foot to wave. Clearly he wasn't doing it on cue. I tried to repeat the wave training method in order to reteach him what I want for him to do. I would reward even if he so much as would lift the foot off the perch. Surprisingly though, he was picking things back up very quickly and within 5 tries he had a sort of wave going and by 10 he was already waving on cue as good as ever. This demonstrates much greater strength in his bad leg than previously anticipated.
The recovery progress had probably already been happening but accustomed to the pain, Truman did not try to use his leg in full. But with my encouragement through positive reinforcement training, Truman is regaining function of his leg much more quickly. With today's progress he is back to 90% of his original state and I would guess that at this rate he should be back to 100% within 2 weeks. This was an exciting breakthrough in Truman's recovery progress. You can expect to see more trick training updates soon. Here is a video of the physical therapy exercise and how I retrained Truman to wave again.
In addition to being instructional, the video is also entertaining and amusing. Truman is such a good boy! You must be so pleased with his healing and mobility.
All the members' posts are so interesting and the photos so heartwarming.
What I'm actually discovering is that his other leg needs therapy more than anything. He's been working out the bad leg by using it to eat and step up. Upon trying physical therapy exercises on the good leg, I've discovered that in fact that one is tighter (and causes him more distress) than the good one. In coming days I will make an effort to work both legs out. I noticed that he definitely has a stronger preference to step with his bad leg and to do all the standing on the good one. Now the good leg will need to have the muscles reintroduced to walking, stepping up, etc.
Yes, without a doubt they do. And luckily Truman is left footed which is the one that got injured. This way he was still able to rest his weight on his good leg and eat with his more dexterous one. However, he used to use the good leg more (and even hold stuff with it from time to time). For a month and a half, that was the leg he would stand all his weight on while maybe working with the other leg. Now the good leg has become a stiff/sturdy support but is no longer dexterous. In order to get him to be able to walk and step up well again, I must exercise that good leg as well.