Tuesday 22nd Jan, 2019

“Swimmer Syndrome” – ‘one stroke at a time’

“Swimmer Syndrome” is not a common condition but has been reported in neonatal dogs as well as cats, causing weakness and splaying of the hindlimbs, and occasionally the forelimbs. In many patients, the visual diagnosis is adequate and no tests such as muscle biopsies are necessary.

Interestingly, “Swimmer Syndrome” appears to have been reported more frequently in brachycephalic breeds such as English Bulldogs where it can also occur concurrently with pectus excavatum.

The term “Swimmer Syndrome” supposedly came about as patients make ‘swim-like’ movement with their legs, such as in the video above. While various theories exist for the cause of “Swimmer Syndrome” there is still no clear reason the condition develops. Some proposed theories include: muscular strength to bodyweight mismatch, myopathies or possible neurological issues.

Previously the prognosis was thought to be poor, but successes have been described and this patient has greatly improved with range-of-motion joint movement exercises and other physical therapies, such as standing him in a box to prevent his legs from splaying, a few times a day.

He isn’t quite at the stage of running around the room, but he ‘stands’ a good chance of getting there soon!

Next Post: Surgical Management of Gastrocnemius Avulsion in a Cat

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