Fig.3 Jumping Problems part 3

In the last two articles I looked jumping styles and physical problems of take-off. In this months issue I am going to discuss injuries that occur in flight and on landing.

Injuries That Occur in Flight

These are usually associated with a dog hitting the jump pole or frame. The injuries vary greatly and are influenced by the speed the dog is travelling and the area of impact. For instance if a dog hits a pole with a front or back foot, the pole will fall and the foot will be pushed backwards with very little likelihood of injury. Fig.1 Compare this to the dog that has a tucked up jumping style and hits the pole with a flexed knee. Fig.2 This has more potential for injury. These injuries are traumatic and the dog usually shows lameness at the time or shortly after the impact. Other injuries that occur in the jumping phase are back injuries. These usually occur when a dog is twisting in flight in readiness for landing and a turn to the next obstacle. Injuries may be muscular involving the para-spinal and iliopsoas muscles but can also be more serious involving a disc prolapse or a fibrocartilage embolism (FCE.) With this condition part of the disc breaks off and blocks the blood supply to part of the spinal cord. These injuries are usually serious and signs of weakness and paralysis appear immediately. Thankfully these injuries are uncommon.

Injuries That Occur on Landing

Injuries occurring during the landing phase usually involve the head and neck or front legs. Stumbling on landing can result in a nosedive with the potential for damage to the nose, mouth and teeth. Occasionally neck and head injuries occur but these are very rare. Most landing injuries involve the front legs. A stumble or slip on landing may produce an acute injury which will show up immediately. More common however, are repetitive strain injuries. Stopped contacts also contribute to repetitive strain injuries. These most commonly affect the carpus (wrist) and shoulder. Repetitive carpal strain injuries result in a slow dropping of the carpus (hyperextension.) fig 9.6 Often these dogs will not be lame initially. If a dog start to show sign of carpal hyperextension then a carpal wrap is indicated. There are various strengths of support available. Fig.4 The wraps should be worn when the dog is competing or training. Shoulder injuries are, however, the most common repetitive strain injury in agility dogs. The most common injury is a medial shoulder instability (MSI.) The start of the lameness is often insidious. Often there is muscle wasting. These injuries respond poorly to NSAIDS and rest. In some case a shoulder brace is required in the initial part of treatment. Fig.5 An individual exercise program is usually required for each individual dog. The diagnosis and treatment of these injuries is best carried out by a vet or physiotherapist trained in sports injuries.