Tipsy the sheep was born with bilateral angular limb deformities, torticollis and scoliosis. She was also diagnosed with mineral deficiencies that weakened her muscles.
Her veterinarian, Dr. Lori Smith, took Tipsy home when the sheep was 3 days old and too weak to stand.
Smith knew Tipsy needed to be able to walk and graze to have quality of life so she consulted her friends Elizabeth Hart and Margaret McGee who are physical therapists with the University of Central Arkansas.
“When Lori first got her, she sent some video,” Hart said. “We work with babies with torticollis a lot.”
The sheep’s owner lovingly named her for the struggles she endured learning to walk.
“Because of her leg deformities, she’s kind of a toddler and tipsy,” Hart said, noting that she didn’t like the name at first but does now. “It fits.”
Aside from the hours of stretching, optimal positioning and splint fabrication, the therapists developed a home exercise program for Tipsy just like they would a human patient.
“Lori has been the most compliant parent with home exercise,” Hart said. “When [Tipsy] was little, she would sleep in the bed with Lori so she could make sure she could keep her in the right position.”
Last week, Tipsy celebrated her first birthday surrounded by the team that helped improve her quality of life. The team had shirts made for the occasion with a sheep in the background that read: “Physical Therapy Helps Ewe.”
Smith said Tipsy’s progress has been “amazing.”
“When she was young, her prognosis was pretty poor,” she said. “She was a fighter from the beginning. It’s impressive what all she’s been able to do.
“She couldn’t stand. Now she can run and buck. It’s amazing.”