Electromuscular incapacitating devices (EMDs) are electronic immobilization weapons that have been available for over 30 years. The purpose of these non-lethal weapons is to incapacitate humans or animals using high-voltage electricity. Research on the effects of EMDs concluded that while EMDs may increase heart rate, they have no effect on cardiac rhythm or morphology in normal subjects.3,6,11 Other studies investigated the changes in blood factors following single or repeated taser exposure and reported transient increases in acidosis, lactate, hematocrit, and other factors.2,4,10 Potential injuries may include thoracic spine compression fractures.9,12 However, no studies were found to suggest that EMDs cause paralysis or paresis of limbs in humans or animals. This is a case report of a 9-month-old bobcat that was tasered at the T10 spinal level resulting in temporary hind limb paralysis and residual paresis. Routine rehabilitation of muscle weakness includes exercise and electrical stimulation. Research demonstrated mixed results on the effectiveness of these methods.1,5,7,8,13 The bobcat received daily treatments consisting of range-of-motion exercises and sensory stimulation. One year post-incident, electro-acupuncture and rehabilitation techniques (spinal and soft tissue mobilization) were implemented. Environmental modifications were designed and changed periodically to encourage pelvic limb muscle strengthening and to facilitate muscle re-education. After four months of treatment, the bobcat could ascend/descend stairs and initiate walking. Although the movement patterns were not consistent, the bobcat continues to demonstrate progressive improvement.
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2. Ho JD, Minere JR, Lakireddy DR, Bultman LL, Heegaard WG. Cardiovascular and physiologic effects of conducted electrical weapon discharge in resting adults. Acad Emerg Med. 2006;13(6):589–595.
3. Ideker RE, Dosdall DJ. Can the direct cardiac effects of the electric pulses generated by the TASE X26 cause immediate or delayed sudden cardiac arrest in normal adults? Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2007;28(3):195–201.
4. Jauchem JR, Cook MC, Beason CW. Blood factors of Sus scrofa following a series of three TASER electronic control device exposures. Forensic Sci Int. 2008;175(2-3):166-170.
5. Kilmer DD. Response to resistive strengthening exercise training in humans with neuromuscular disease. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2002;81(11 Suppl):S121–126.
6. Levine SD, Sloane CM, Chan TC, Dunford JV, Vilke GM. Cardiac monitoring of human subjects exposed to the taser. J Emerg Med. 2007;33(2):113–117.
7. Lloret L, Hayhoe S. A tale of two foxes—case reports: 1. Radial nerve paralysis treated with acupuncture in a wild fox. 2. Acupuncture in a fox with aggressive and obsessive behavior. Acupuncture Med. 2005;23(4):190–195.
8. Sabatier MJ, Stoner L, Mahoney ET, Black, Elder C, Dudley GA, McCully K. Electrically stimulated resistance training in SCI individuals increases muscle fatigue resistance but not femoral artery size or blood flow. Spinal Cord. 2006;44(4):227–233.
9. Sloane CM, Chan TC, Vilke GM. Thoracic spine compression fracture after TASER activation. J Emerg Med. 2008; Jan 9 [Epub ahead of print].
10. Vilke GM, Sloane CM, Bouton KD, Kolkhorst FW, Levine SD, Neuman TS, et al. Physiological effects of a conducted electrical weapon on human subjects. Ann Emerg Med. 2007;50(5):569–575.
11. Vilke GM, Sloane C, Levine S, Neuman T, Castillo E, Chan TC. Twelve-lead electrocardiogram monitoring of subjects before and after voluntary exposure to the Taser X26. Am J Emerg Med. 2008;26(10):1–4.
12. Winslow JE, Bozeman WP, Fortner MC, Alson RL. Thoracic compression fractures as a result of shock from a conducted energy weapon: a case report. Ann Emerg Med. 2007;50(5):584–586.
13. Yang JW, Jeong SM, Seo KM, Nam TC. Effects of corticosteroid and electroacupuncture on experimental spinal cord injury in dogs. J Vet Sci. 2003;4(1):97–101.