Animals With No Use of Their Hind Legs
Various congenital conditions and spinal injuries or degenerative conditions can paralyze an animal's hind legs. This hub is not so much about this unfortunate condition as the perseverance animals can show in continuing with their lives, regardless of what happens to them.
One of the more interesting features of quadruped animals adapting to hind limb paralysis is that they may adopt a bipedal gait, either during recovery of perminantl.y
This pig has paralyzed back legs. It learned how to walk balanced on its front legs alone. (From the collection of Bernard Kobel). You can see some modern animals that have mastered the same trick here: Two-Legged Pigs. In this case the pig balances by elevating their hind end to bring this center of gravity closer to their shoulders.
This stray dog was spotted in Trinidad. It seems to have lost the use of its rear legs possibly due to being hit by a car, and developed a different method to get around bipedally. Here the type of injury prevents he dog from raising their hind end and instead the legs are carried forwards but under the thorax.
Penny is a wonderful dog who learned to walk two legged after a serious injury. Please see her inspiring story here. She given treatment and eventually able to walk on all fours again!
On when level when you look at these animals it seems sad or even pathetic. They have been born disabled or been badly injured. But what I see is that animals have a gift for living in the moment. They have continued with their lives, and found a way to do what they need to do. Sometimes people could learn a lot from animals like these.
The main causes of this injury are:
- Physical trauma to the spine.
- Illness such as encephalomyelitis and inflammatory disease.
- Congenital defect.
- Substances such as botulinum toxin.
I have observed that loss of hing limb strength is not uncommon i some breeds or rats, and several mutations in rodents have been found to cause hind limb paralysis. Breeding choices such as inbreeding, or breeding for a very long back, increase the risk of an animal experiencing this injury.
Some animals can spontaneously recover from hind limb paralysis. There are also promising treatments under development including cell therapy. Development in veterinary medicine and treatment of paralyzed animals may eventually contribute to developments in human medicine also.
The stories of these animals are:
- Blankenhorn, Elizabeth P., Russell J. Butterfield, Robert Rigby, Laura Cort, Dana Giambrone, Paul McDermott, Kay McEntee et al. "Genetic analysis of the influence of pertussis toxin on experimental allergic encephalomyelitis susceptibility: an environmental agent can override genetic checkpoints." The Journal of Immunology 164, no. 6 (2000): 3420-3425.
- NIXON, C. W., & CONNELLY, M. E. (1968). Hind-leg paralysis: A new sex-linked mutation in the Syrian hamster. Journal of Heredity, 59(5), 276-278.
- Tarlov, I. M. (1954). Spinal cord compression studies: III. Time limits for recovery after gradual compression in dogs. AMA Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry, 71(5), 588-597.