Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2016


A permanent resident, geriatric, North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) named “Cooper” came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in 2001with partial paralysis of his hind legs. Following recent, notable deterioration in gross motor function, the veterinary staff suggested non-invasive Multiwave Locked System (MLS) laser therapy treatment. MLS laser therapy is a procedure used in humans and other animals with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Cooper received MLS laser therapy on his back for 16 sessions that ranged from 3.99-10 J/cm2 as part of efforts to improve his hind leg mobility. Five sessions of 10 J/cm2 were considered the treatment phase of this study. The frequency of specific behaviors and a customized mobility score were compared pre- versus during treatment, and the relative proportion of Cooper’s activity levels were compared using a factorial analysis. There was a significant decrease in the frequency of sleep and an increase in the frequency of rest during treatment, along with continuous bilateral mobility that occurred without defecation. Also, a significant main effect was observed for energy level and time of day pre- and during treatment. Considering Cooper’s injury and geriatric state, the effects of the MLS laser therapy were considered clinically significant, leading to the continuation of MLS laser therapy for maintenance. This type of non-invasive procedure, designed to address inflammation and pain, may be useful to other zoological facilities to treat younger animals and/or more recent injuries.


Division: MBE

MPS Track: MMS

Location: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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