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An Update on Buddy – A-TraC Dynamic Brace

1/16/2014

It has been a while since we last updated you on our dog Buddy’s progress with the A-TraC Dynamic Brace. Our last update was a year into his treatment and as I explained then, we did have a setback. After that setback Buddy was wearing his brace anytime we did anything active likes walks or the dog park or the beach. We have continued that till now and still believe it is the best way to protect him.

Buddy is doing great and we have not had any further setbacks in his treatment. He goes for his daily walks on the leash as well as going to the dog park with his friends a few times a week. Buddy looks very stylish in his red and black A-TraC Dynamic Brace and we get many questions and compliments from other dog owners as well. There seems to always be at least one person at the park that comes up to me to ask about the brace since their dog has a torn ACL. I am glad I can be a walking advertisement for this brace that has given my dog his happiness back as well as my own. I can also help other people that are in the situation I have been many times before, where I am overwhelmed and confused and do not know who to listen too or what to do.

If I can give anyone starting out on this journey one piece of advice it would be to have lots of patience. This will be as I said before a journey and not a quick fix. There are no quick fixes with this injury, not surgery, conservative treatment alone or with a brace. No matter which path and treatment you choose this will take time and patience if you want the best results. I wish you all good luck on your journey!

 

All the best;

Stephen & Laura

 

Brace Comparison Chart

FEATURES A-TraC Dynamic Brace Mutt Knee Brace Orthopets Knee Brace
Soft Brace Yes Yes No
Hard Brace No No Yes
Cost one sided brace Starting at $295 $199 $800 plus
Expected Delivery Maximum 4 Bus. Days 10 -14 Bus days* 2 to 3 weeks
Casting Required by Vet No No Yes
Sedation of the dog No No Yes most cases
Requires Hock or Ankle to keep brace up No No Yes
Uses a fixed hinge No Nothing Yes
Uses Range of Motion Rods YES Nothing No
Is a True Medical Device (Biomechanically Correct) Yes “It is NOT a medical device.” Yes
Allows for Full Range of Motion at knee Yes No Yes
Knocking of hard brace can startle and damage furniture No No Yes
First Cruciate Brace for Dogs in US Yes No No
Sold most braces (Over 7 years) Yes No No
Dogs tolerability and weight bearing after use of the brace 90% Not listed Not listed
Dogs not requiring surgery after use of the brace 75% to 80% Not listed Not listed
Developed by a human surgeon with Biomechanics as background Yes No Training Technician

 

 

Those of you who have read our previous posts know that we are becoming quite educated on ACL or Cruciate Tears in dogs. Over the years I have had not only one but three dogs that have torn their ACL.  We have had the unfortunate but at the same time very educational opportunity to try out two very different options in treatment for this injury.  As we told you before, with our first dog Dino, we opted for surgery because it was suggested by our veterinarian at that time. We did not think that there could be any other options.  The second time with Max we thought that since braces are used for human ACL injuries there might be something similar for dogs. With Max we were smarter and took our time to research the internet for other options and selected the A-Trac Dynamic Brace. Max healed remarkably well and runs and plays just like before the injury. When Buddy our Westie ended up with this injury we continued our internet research to make sure of what was available at that time for conservative treatment.

This is our attempt at sharing all of the experiences and knowledge we have gained going through all of this.   With the internet making any information readily available it was easy for us to just get on the computer and start googleing away.  We started typing in any words related to this injury and found even more than we found the first time we looked.  We expanded our research and came across not only lots of information on the subject but three specific companies that make a brace for ACL injuries.  We chose to compare and discuss these three because they had the greatest presence on my internet searches and provided the most information. We not only did extensive research online on the injury as well as the braces but also called up all three companies and asked many questions and got a lot of information.. We are doing this comparison for all of you out there with dogs that have ACL injuries who do not want surgery and are confused on which brace to choose.   We understand that in certain circumstances surgery might be necessary. After our less than poor experience with Dino (First dog with ACL injury) and his TPLO  surgery, we are now firm believers that the conservative approach should be tried if at all possible.  We have done a spreadsheet chart to make it easy and quick to view the braces from these three companies and the differences between them.  Obviously, nothing is 100% but this will give you an idea of your options and how to choose. These are our personal observations and certainly you should do you own research.  As I talked about in my previous post, we went with the A-Trac Dynamic Brace for my Lab Max and had amazing results. We now have Buddy in the A-Trac Dynamic brace and so far are very pleased with his progress.  When Buddy our Westie injured himself we wanted to review our choices, so we expanded our research on Braces with certain goals in mind. You should choose your own goals.

Our goals were:

  1. How effective was the product?
  2. How fast I could get the product?
  3. Cost of the product.
  4. Comfort of the product.

We would like to share our findings and evaluations. For those of you that don’t like charts we have included our written explanation of our basic findings. Keep in mind that your goals might be different from ours, so hopefully this information will make it easier for you to make an informed decision.

It is critical to begin treatment as soon as possible because of the arthritis that starts to develop immediately following an ACL injury. Also your dog will shift all or a greater amount of weight to his good leg which causes ACL injuries in the opposite leg in 40 to 60% of dogs. The longer he shifts his weight the greater the chance of the good leg getting injured.   So it is a good idea to get your dog into a brace quickly. There are hard braces and soft braces.  The Orthopets Brace is a hard brace. Like other hard braces casting is required for this brace. Casting your dog unfortunately is an additional cost above and beyond the cost of the original diagnosis and x-rays. Sedation is usually required to cast a dog for a Hard Brace which is again an additional cost and can have medical complications for dogs who are older or have health problems. In addition, casting makes their legs muscles relax which then can result in an incorrect measurement. Both the Mutt Knee Brace and A-Trac Dynamic braces are soft braces which use a Harness and Cuff on the opposite thigh to maintain position of the brace.  Hard Braces depend on the Hock or Ankle to hold up the brace which can cause irritation.  A soft brace requires a few more parts to keep it up but works even as the hock or ankle moves up and down with walking, Hard Braces use fixed and or rigid hinges. When the Hard Braces moves up and down with walking the fixed hinge actually can cause more stress on the knee joint because the hinge no longer aligns with the Stifle or Knee joint.  The A-Trac Dynamic Brace is the only brace of the three that has flexible rods that not only maintain stability at the Stifle Joint (Knee Joint) but also can flex over a distance from 1.5 to 4″ depending on the size of the brace. This allows the A-TraC dog acl Brace to move slightly up and down the leg without putting additional stress on the Knee joint.  The A-Trac rods come in two stiffness’s. The stiff rods reduce pain by limiting motion and the flexible rods allow for full knee joint range of motion with very mild resistance, allowing for improved physical therapy which strengthens the thigh muscles which tend to atrophy (shrink) with this disorder.

Hard Braces when they contact an object or the ground can not only damage property but also they can startle the dog making it less tolerable for them to wear.

The Mutt knee Brace actually by their own admission cannot even be considered a true brace. It is only a bandage, and as they state “It is NOT a medical device”. Also, it was developed by a woman who has no formal medical training. These two factors prevented me from even considering this brace as an option although it is cheaper than the A-Trac brace and the Orthopets brace.

Unless you have an unusually shaped dog the A-TraC Brace comes in 10 sizes and is adjustable to fit within each size. The advantage of this is that it can be obtained very quickly. If you choose, nest day shipping is an option. Ground shipping gets it there in four days anywhere in the continental US. The other braces take from 2 to 4 weeks to get depending on veterinary appointments for casting or the companies turn around time.

Ease of application would probably favor the one piece hard brace, but we did not find this to be as important as the other factors.

None of the companies except Woundwear who makes the A-trac brace keeps statistics on success and failures. Woundwear does surveys of vets and people on a random basis to determine its effectiveness. They also have the largest number sold and were the first manufacturers of ACL braces for dogs beginning way back in 2005, so I feel they had more experience. Also the A-trac brace was designed by a human surgeon with extensive experience in bracing. There were also hundreds of testimonials and before and after videos. We can now add our videos to this list!

 

In addition to our original successful experience with the A-Trac brace and Max, we re-evaluated again with Buddy. Only with the A-trac brace were all four of our personal criteria met.. Of course, your criteria may differ from ours and that is why we are listing all the information, so you can choose what is most important to you.

 

Best Regards, J

Laura and Stephen

Woundwear A-Trac Brace recovery for Buddy 6 weeks – dog acl tear

Here is buddy’s progress! We are using the Woundwear A-trac brace and it work well!
As you can see Buddy is able to put weight on his leg. He is getting is spukyness back!. We are happy so far with the brace and Buddy’s recovery. We felt comfortable talking with the technical staff about the Woundwear A-trac brace. They were very helpful and insured we had everything we needed before ordering.

Buddy’s 6 week update using Woundwear’s dog ACL brace – Recovery is going well!

It has now been about 6 weeks since Buddy our West Highland Terrier injured his right ACL. As you saw in the first video he was limping and toe touching. Buddy, contrary to our thoughts regarding Westie’s being stubborn, he has been quite co-operative. We used a dog acl brace by woundwear. (who was very helpful!)
As instructed we took the brace off Buddy every two days to check for irritations as well as to give him time without the brace. When doing this you have to make absolutely sure that your dog doesn’t reinjure himself so either hold him or keep your dog leashed. Buddy did develop an irritation on the side of his lower leg. We immediately called our veterinarian and WoundWear’s technical support line. Both were very helpful. The veterinarian gave us an antibiotic ointment to apply and Woundwear’s technical support suggested some adhesive padding that we could apply to the inside of the brace to keep the pressure off the irritated area. The wound healed up well after about a week and never returned. I understand that this occurs very infrequently and our other dog never developed any irritations. I understand after speaking with Woundwear that when irritations occur they are most often from the brace either being to loose causing extra movement and rubbing or two tight causing additional pressure. After a number of applications it is easy to know how to adjust the brace straps.
Application of the brace took us several times to get familiar with. We required referring back to the instructions and even calling Woundwear once before we became comfortable with it. Putting it on now seems like 2nd nature.
The one thing we forgot to do during the first week or so was to clip Buddy’s fur especially the long fur on the back of his legs. The fur at the back of the legs should be clipped down to one half inch. Once we did this it made the brace application much easier and actually fit better. After we clipped his fur, not as much fur gets stuck in the brace straps. Also when his fur was longer it tended to bunch up under the brace and make it fit unevenly. I think the better fit actually prevented the irritation from coming back.
During the first week of brace wear Buddy did not walk completely normal. He still appeared to be toe touching. As instructed we continued to use positive reinforcement with treats any time we used the brace and Buddy actually began to like the brace and appeared more excited to go for walks than he did in the beginning. We used the stiffer rods initially to decrease his pain. After 3 days we felt he was not having much discomfort and switched to the more flexible full motion rods. This time period can vary from dog to dog.
By the third week Buddy was walking totally normal and you could tell he was much friskier and wanted to run. Of course we did not let him. Based on our research it takes at least 2 to 3 months to form enough scar tissue to heal.
I think being vigilant and consistent in the use of the brace and following the instructions for wear is extremely important. Letting up on treatment to early can cause the knee to be reinjured or not heal completely.
Buddy is now about six and a half weeks into wearing the brace and he is doing well as you can see in this video. He is quite happy not having to miss his walks or be confined to a crate for 8 weeks.
We have put down mats on our tile floor at the suggestion of technical support and it does allow Buddy to get up easier without slipping. Every little things counts.
We will continue to update Buddy’s progress and include more videos. At this point I am very optimistic as to his progress.
Sincerely,
Laura and Stephen