Stefanie Scheff, DVM, CVA, CCRT
Member, Royal College Veterinary Surgeons
Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist
Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist
Dr. Stefanie Scheff earned her Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree from the University of Sydney in 2006. After graduating, she returned to California to practice veterinary medicine as a small animal practitioner. She became interested in furthering her knowledge in medicine and was soon certified in veterinary acupuncture from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2011; she later became a certified in rehabilitation therapy from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI) in 2013.
Dr. Scheff is a consulting veterinarian with California Animal Rehabilitation in Southern California. She also founded a mobile veterinary practice called Five Paws Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Tell us how you heard about the Assisi Loop?
Dr. Laurie McCauley, owner of Tops Veterinary Rehabilitation in Illinois. When I was doing my CRI [Canine Rehabilitation Institute] internship with her a year ago, she was raving about them. When I returned home after the internship, I adopted a rescue puppy. About two weeks afterwards, I left her with my parents for one day and my dad stepped on her foot and my mom slammed her foot in the door, breaking her toe. I had a 14-week-old lame dog that totally broke the 5th digit on her front right paw. So, I put a splint on her leg and after a week or so she was getting tired of it. I was getting tired of it too. She was still limping, so I got the Assisi Loop and in one day she started putting her paw down and in three days, she was totally running on it. I thought, "Wow, this stuff is really good," so I got some more and started selling them.
It sounds like you were pretty immediately converted once you used it the first time.
Yes. Very much so.
What types of cases did you initially start working with the Loop on?
One of the best cases I had was when I was treating a small poodle and she had a horribly kyphotic back and she could barely walk. She looked like a camel. Her owner had surgery on her right thumb 10 years before. She had all this scar tissue and couldn't move her thumb very much. She happened to use the Assisi Loop and kept it on her dog while her dog was doing the treatment with the same hand and within a month the scar tissue and the pain was gone and the dog's back was straight.
Since then, have you expanded the types of cases that you're working with, the conditions that you're treating?
I have treated quite a few cranial cruciate injury cases with the help of the Assisi loop. It seems to work very well for the acute or acute-on-chronic cruciate injury with effusion present as I have typically seen the dogs go from three-legged lame to putting their affected leg down in a much shorter time period. I've tried it for an ear infection which helped to bring down the inflammation. It worked well with a spider bite that was inflamed and infected. I had a Labrador that had a CT scan for an undiagnosed shoulder injury. The referring and specialist vets still couldn't figure out what was going on. The owner used the Assisi Loop and the dog was walking about 50% better after a week. That's really good since we didn't even know what was going on, even with a CT scan. It also seems to work well for skin inflammation. What I like about it is that it seems to be safe around cancer.
Do you also use laser in your practice?
Are you able to tell us when you use Assisi and when you use Laser in your practice?
I use them both because I'm only at CARE (California Animal Rehab) one day a week and the rest of the time I'm doing my home visits. Since I can only get to each home visit once a week, the owners can still treat with the Loop during the time that I'm not there. That's what I use it for the most. It's a good adjunct to all the other therapies as an at-home therapy that can be used every day.
When you talk to clients about using the Loop, how do you describe it to them?
It decreases inflammation and takes away pain. If they don't want to give NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory medications) and Steroids and other things like that, they should try the Loop. There are no side effects. And, it seems to last forever. I'm still on the first one that I got for my pup last year. And it's very reasonably price at less than $2.00 a treatment.
How are your clients responding to product?
It's a bit of an up-front cost so I tell them that I think they will be very happy in the long run. They go home and think about it and ask me if I really think it's going to stop the pain and reduce the inflammation and I tell them that I know it will. Once they see that the dog is putting his leg down and hasn't had any other NSAIDS or pain meds then they really start to love the product.
When we talk to frequent users, we find that most people are using the Loop with dogs and fewer are using it with cats.
It does work really well for cats. Cats are more sensitive to electromagnetic fields than dogs are. They feel it more. My own cat wants to get up before the 15 minutes are up. He has kidney failure. He seems to do a lot better when he sits on my lap with the Loop on him. His back doesn't hurt as much if I put it where his kidney belt is. The Assisi Loop takes away his lower back pain more than anything else. His backline becomes straighter and his hind legs become noticeably stronger after using the Loop.
Some pet owners get creative with treating cats. Some people are able to treat the cat while they're sitting on their lap at night. Other people may place the Loop under the cat's bed on a favorite perch and when the cat lays down, they'll turn on the Loop.
They can even put the cat in a carrier and put the Loop under a little blanket if they're treating an area that is in reach of the conical pattern. That can also work.
Anything else you want us to know?
I've just been really happy that it's such an easy tool to use and I can leave it with the owners. I'm sure the animals are getting benefit when I'm not there. Thank you so much for having such a great product.
Update from Dr. Scheff since she did the interview: I have given a Loop to a client with a geriatric, cognitive dysfunction German Shorthair Pointer. The dog had been becoming increasingly ataxic, acute vision loss, and increase of aggression toward the other dogs as well as his owners over a 1-2 month period. The owners did not have money for an MRI to look for possible brain tumors or other neoplasms. I suggested the Assisi Loop since the only other option was humane euthanasia, which the owner definitely was not ready for. They purchased one and started using it for 15 minutes, once daily, around the dog's head. I saw the dog about 3 weeks after they purchased the device. To my amazement, the dog was calm, walking much better with coordinated movements, and did not show any signs of aggression as he did previously!
Thank you to Dr. Scheff for taking the time to chat with us. We are always interested in learning more from Veterinarians who work with the Assisi Loop. If you're interested in being in our Expert Interview series, please let us know!
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