Laser Turtle!

As you may remember all of our turtles had been cleared for release. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, one of our turtles dubbed Cyclops (17) developed a late infection and had to be held back.

One of our great summer interns Lara is holding Cyclops prior to the start of therapy.

Just prior to the release in NY we started noticing swelling in some of the turtle's flipper joints and it started to favor the right front and the left rear flipper. The swelling became progressively worse and the turtle's appetite started to diminish. At this point in rehab any one of these things is worrisome. We took radiographs and blood cultures. We also took needle aspirates of the swollen areas.

Hard to see but there is moderate swelling in the right front flipper wrist and elbow area. Less intense swelling in the left elbow region.

Here you can see the left rear knee has some pronounced swelling.

When all the results were in it turned out this turtle has a systemic infection. We started treating for the infection but the swelling did not seem to diminish. As we continued the antibiotics we also started using a laser for the edema (swelling) of the joint area.

Our turtle's namesake Cyclops from X-men.
It seemed fitting that Cyclops would be getting a laser treatment.  

How does the laser therapy work?
I found this at the Companion Therapy Laser website:

The LiteCure Companion Laser unit.

"The Companion therapy laser system sends photons, or packets of light energy, deep into tissue without damaging it. These photons are absorbed within the mitochondria of the cells and induce a chemical change called “photo-bio-modulation”. This light energy then inspires production of ATP in the cell. ATP is the fuel, or energy, cells need for repair and rejuvenation. Impaired or injured cells do not make this fuel at an optimal rate. Increased ATP production leads to healthier cells, healthier tissue, and healthier animals."

If interested in more of the biological/physiological explanation on laser therapy check out LiteCure's webpage here.

The cool glasses aren't just a fashion statement, they provide protection for our eyes from errant laser beams.


Unfortunately they don't make glasses for the turtle so when we are doing therapy on the front flippers we make sure to cover its eyes.

When I saw the photo above I thought, "Really cool photo for Cyclops!" But, it also demonstrates why we are wearing the protective glasses and cover the turtle's eyes. We probably didn't even notice the light coming out from under the shell, our camera sure did.  

Cyclops eating a squid head.

Cyclops chasing after a piece of squid!

The swelling has diminished and the turtle is eating so much better now! We still have to wait and re-culture to make sure the turtle no longer has the infection. But, we are all hopeful that this turtle will be back in the wild very soon!


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