Healing The Damage of Distemper-The Next Leg of the Journey
It's been a year as of October 1st, 2009 since Carmella has had the CSF procedure and though she's done alot of healing it appears that the myoclonus in her right front leg still remains. Generally everything that will heal on its own will have done so after a year.
Her leg has over time become somewhat weakened as though she has a fallen arch and that appears to be from holding it in an awkward position much of the time in an attempt to balance herself. The wrist looks somewhat elongated compared to the other and she holds it up off the ground or even knuckled over the way a primate holds its hand leaning on it on the ground. This is not natural for a dog and I'm worried if left that way could result in further weakening, and atrophy.
Dr. Norwood noticed this too the last time he saw her in the office, and it has continued to worry me. Initially I was looking into the use of Quinine but only found one research paper but then was not able to find it again to give him.
I started thinking about stem cell transplant, as I have heard more and more about this in human spinal cord regeneration. Since Distemper-caused myoclonus generally originates in the brain stem or spinal cord around the shoulder of the dog it occurred to me that maybe if a stem cell transplant could be done on that area that was damaged by the virus Carmella could regenerate new myelin!
When I did a search I found that MS has been particularly challenging for scientists to treat with stem cell replacement because there is a missing link in the technique that would make it more complete for that disease which is not as complex in other diseases and injuries.
MS in humans is closely related to canine distemper in much of its biochemistry, but my hope is that the reason MS is so tricky to treat with stem cell replacement is that research has been done on non-cured patients, whereas Carmella no longer has active distemper (so the damage , I believe, would more closely approximate a regular spinal cord injury).
I'm thinking she may need an MRI to find out exactly where the damage exists and whether it's just one small area or whether it's more than one.
I found this company that offers stem cell harvesting from the dog and preparation for transplant; http://www.vet-stem.com/
They mostly mention things like ligaments, but I found alot online about the possibility of CNS applications for it, so I think this just might work!
Carmella does not look very comfortable having to live with the constant jerking and a leg that seems like it might or might not support her weight at any given time, and at times her wrist nearly lies flat on he ground when she doesn't hold it knuckled over, looking more like a hoof sometimes than a paw, so if I can get this for her, and it works I'll be thrilled.
If Carmella's experience proves successful this will provide alot of hope to other dogs out there who did not get the Distemper treatment soon enough to prevent this sort of permanent damage!