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Harley receives acupuncture treatment from Dr. Sypniewski as part of his recovery plan
Harley receives acupuncture treatment from Dr. Sypniewski

Harley beats the odds after car accident

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Media Contact: Kinsey Reed | Communications Specialist | 405-744-6740 |

After being hit by a car, Harley, a beloved family boxer, was rushed to an animal emergency room when he was found unable to use his back legs. After extensive testing, veterinarians found Harley didn’t have any broken bones but rather intense damage to his spinal cord.

“We were told there was a high chance that Harley would never walk again,” said Judy Ramey, Harley’s owner. “They told us that acupuncture could potentially help his injury but that there were no promises.” 

While at home waiting for their next step, Ramey worked with Harley as much as she could to ensure he kept what little strength he had left. After a few days of resting at home and the consistent exercises that Ramey did, Harley built up the strength to stand on all four legs briefly. This gave her the hope Harley might be able to regain mobility. 

“I spoke with a veterinarian in Arkansas and was going to drive to Arkansas to get Harley the treatment he needed,” Ramey said. “The veterinarian informed me that the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital did the acupuncture treatment Harley needed, so I immediately made an appointment.”

When Harley arrived at OSU, he was seen by Dr. Lara Sypniewski, a small animal primary care clinical professor. Sypniewski assessed Harley and decided that acupuncture, aggressive pain management, and physical therapy would be the best option for Harley to return to normal function. Harley was put on anti-inflammatory and nerve pain medications and had three intensive acupuncture and laser therapy appointments every other week. In addition, Ramey was shown how to complete daily physical therapy exercises to help Harley maintain range of motion and regain muscle strength. After those initial treatments, Harley showed significant improvement.

Acupuncture therapy is non-invasive and can treat many conditions in animals. It is especially effective in reducing pain, and in Harley’s situation, it was used to reduce spinal cord swelling. Needles the size of a human hair are placed gently into specific points on the animal’s body to trigger a response at the level of the nerves and blood vessels. This response allows for increased blood flow and aids in modulating the nervous system response, including activating the body’s neuro-pharmacy to downregulate pain. Acupuncture helps the nervous system heal itself.

Combined with traditional medical therapy, acupuncture can be very effective in treating a wide range of medical symptoms, and luckily for Harley, it was just what he needed to heal.

“Acupuncture with electrostimulation decreases inflammation in the spinal cord locally,” Sypniewski said. “In addition, it can be used to increase proprioception or feeling in limbs that have been impacted by spinal cord swelling and damage. In addition, it helps to reduce pain naturally by utilizing the body’s own incredibly effective neuropharmacy.”

Harley did remarkably well and recovered better than expected in a short amount of time. In addition to his acupuncture treatment and laser therapy, Ramey did an extensive amount of physical therapy with Harley in between treatments.

“His owner’s dedication to his physical therapy made all the difference,” Sypniewski said.

After months of treatment, Harley is back to doing his favorite everyday activities. His function and mobility are almost back to normal, and his daily activities are precisely where they need to be.

“We are so thankful for OSU and all they have done for Harley,” Ramey said.

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