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Meet Bernie, a beautiful cockerel who was found abandoned up a tree a few years ago. He was rescued by Rachel Sharp, from Durham who brought him back to full health. However, recently he was found with his left leg stuck in wire hanging roughly a metre off the ground, no one knew how long poor Bernie had been stuck like that.


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Bernie the Cockerel

Animal lover Racheal had taken to him Wrights’ Vets who x-rayed his legs but couldn’t do anything else other than give pain relief. Rachel had asked about laser therapy for Bernie after searching for anything that may help him, luckily Sharon Wright knew just who to refer to!

When Bernie came to Bridge Referrals for his first physiotherapy session with ACPAT Veterinary Physiotherapist Rebecca Heald, his left leg and toes were cold and contracted, he had no movement in his leg and couldn’t bear weight. He was very subdued and was quite happy to lie down for a massage and a snooze!

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Rebecca used massage and gentle stretches to his limb, sensory stimulation, connecting techniques and laser therapy which helps stimulate healing and blood flow. Rachel his owner was taught massage, stretches and exercises to help place the foot on the ground and use an electric toothbrush to help circulation and stimulate sensation. A week later his toes were much looser and muscle spasms were felt when extending his leg. We continued with the physiotherapy and most importantly, Rachel continued doing lots of the techniques at home, often helped by her parents.

Bernie started to regain some movement and would move the leg in the air, like he was scraping the ground. We managed to get his foot back to the floor and continued with exercises to help him bear weight again. All the time Bernie was becoming more like his old self, although was still very relaxed for his massages.

He started to place weight on the left leg and tried to hop and slowly become more active, his sensation improved and he responded better to touching the limb. On his last physiotherapy session most people in the building could hear him cock-a-doddle-doing! He also flew up onto the desk and when he wanted to go home he took himself off to the door! He was certainly back to his old self and everyone involved was so pleased with his recovery.

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With continued physiotherapy, and the dedication of Bernie’s owner Racheal, who rescues many unwanted cockerels, hens and small animals, Bernie did amazingly well!

Physiotherapy can be used to help any animal, the same principles were applied to Bernie that are used for cats and dogs seen regularly with nerve injuries, just with some slight adaptation of techniques to suit two legs not four! Many thanks to Rachel for letting us share Bernie’s story, he’s been the first cockerel we have treated at Bridge referrals and a first for Rebecca who has been a physiotherapist for nearly 20 years!

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Rebecca and Bernie