Ozark - the Australian Wildlife Carer's Information & Communications Network

Wed - Sep 06


Desplaced heal

Splint keeping foot at correct angle

Lee Lou, a little Eastern Grey joey come into our care beginning of August. Her mum was killed in a car accident. She was already in my care for about a week before I noticed that her left leg did not unfold properly and the heel was sideways. I took her to the vet and she took x-rays, as we first suspected dislocation or a break. It seemed that the growth plate at the heel was broken or displaced in the car accident her mum was involved in. The joey did not appear to be in any pain.

This injury obviously resulted into her tendon being somewhat tighter, as it is sort of on one side only, and not in the middle. She always had her foot very tightly folded against her body. As she was still rather tiny she could not stand yet so we could not assess wether she would be able to hop. She only freely stretched one leg, but when I "unfolded" the demented foot she quite happily stretched both feet.

My vet opted for doing nothing. Due to the fact that the bones were not properly calcified yet, nothing would really work. We discussed (and discarded) every option: pins - they would shatter that little heel. Plaster - well there is nothing broken. Bandage - what? We only hoped that physio/exercise would stop the tendon from freezing up. Another shelter friend of mine suggested also a small ball type thing to keep the leg in a 45 degree angle. And once she unfolded that foot she had no problem - except that it liked to fold back.

Various enquiries gave me not much hope. I was told that injuries like this resulted in joeys unable to unfold their legs once out of the pouch. They would stand on their heels an eventually had to be euthanased. I took the little girl to a prosthetic specialist in Melbourne, who fitted a splint, which kept her foot at a 45 degree angle. This splint was removable, so I could give her physio and exercise after every feed.

Now 6 weeks later I just bandage thickly the foot. The heel is still sideways but does not freeze up and "cork-screw" inwards anymore. She is still pouch-bound, but hops without any bandages happily for 10 minutes after every feed. Time will tell whether her muscles will be strong enough - but so far it looks rather promising.

Brigitte Kny

For further references on tarsal injuries,
see "Rupture of the Tarsal/Metatarsal Ligament"
in "Fractures in Macropods" by Dr Jim Pollock B.V.Sc

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