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Evaluation of the anatomic effect of physical therapy exercises for mobilization of lumbar spinal nerves and the dura mater in dogs

Fredrik I. Gruenenfelder med vet1, Alois Boos Prof Dr med vet2, Marco Mouwen3, and Frank Steffen Dr med vet4
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  • 1 Neurology Service, Department for Small Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Anatomy, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
  • | 3 Neurology Service, Department for Small Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
  • | 4 Neurology Service, Department for Small Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract

Objective—To adapt and standardize neural tissue mobilization exercises, quantify nerve root movement, and assess the anatomic effects of lumbar spinal nerve and dural mobilization in dogs.

Animals—15 canine cadavers.

Procedures—5 cadavers were used in the preliminary part of the study to adapt 3 neural tissue mobilization physical therapy exercises to canine anatomy. In the other 10 cadavers, the L4 to L7 nerve roots and the dura at the level of T13 and L1 were isolated and marked. Movements during the physical therapy exercises were standardized by means of goniometric control. Movement of the nerve roots in response to each exercise was digitally measured. The effects of body weight and crownrump length on the distance of nerve root movement achieved during each exercise were also assessed. Each exercise was divided into 4 steps, and the overall distance of neural movement achieved was compared with distances achieved between steps.

Results—Neural tissue mobilization exercises elicited visible and measurable movement of nerve roots L4 to L7 and of the dura at T13 and L1 in all cadavers.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The physical therapy exercises evaluated had measurable effects on nerve roots L4 to L7 and the dura mater in the T13 and L1 segments. These exercises should be evaluated in clinical trials to validate their efficacy as primary treatments or ancillary postsurgical therapy in dogs with disorders of the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral segments of the vertebral column.

Abstract

Objective—To adapt and standardize neural tissue mobilization exercises, quantify nerve root movement, and assess the anatomic effects of lumbar spinal nerve and dural mobilization in dogs.

Animals—15 canine cadavers.

Procedures—5 cadavers were used in the preliminary part of the study to adapt 3 neural tissue mobilization physical therapy exercises to canine anatomy. In the other 10 cadavers, the L4 to L7 nerve roots and the dura at the level of T13 and L1 were isolated and marked. Movements during the physical therapy exercises were standardized by means of goniometric control. Movement of the nerve roots in response to each exercise was digitally measured. The effects of body weight and crownrump length on the distance of nerve root movement achieved during each exercise were also assessed. Each exercise was divided into 4 steps, and the overall distance of neural movement achieved was compared with distances achieved between steps.

Results—Neural tissue mobilization exercises elicited visible and measurable movement of nerve roots L4 to L7 and of the dura at T13 and L1 in all cadavers.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The physical therapy exercises evaluated had measurable effects on nerve roots L4 to L7 and the dura mater in the T13 and L1 segments. These exercises should be evaluated in clinical trials to validate their efficacy as primary treatments or ancillary postsurgical therapy in dogs with disorders of the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral segments of the vertebral column.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Gruenenfelder's present address is Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

Presented as a poster at the 18th Annual European College of Veterinary Neurology Symposium, Munich, September 2005.

The authors thank Dr. Deborah James for assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Gruenenfelder.