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Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

What is Animal/Canine Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation Therapy applies human physical therapy principles to the Canine or Feline patient in order to heal, strengthen and improve mobility.

Rehabilitation Therapy addresses orthopedic injuries, neurologic dysfunction, chronic arthritis, ageing issues, surgical recovery and performance difficulties. A thorough examination is performed to assess the health and disease of bones, joints, nerves and muscles. After an examination an individualized treatment plan is designed to correct any deficiencies/problems (in these tissues). A treatment plan may include therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation, joint mobilization, soft tissue techniques or functional training. Modalities such as electrical stimulation, laser, acupuncture or PEMF technology may be used to increase results.

The goals of any treatment plan are to slow the progression of chronic disease, maximize and speed recovery from surgery or promote peak performance.

The rehabilitation therapist will work collaboratively with your regular vet to achieve your goals for your pet.

How does rehab therapy work?

Manual tissue mobilization: Increases circulation and blood flow, stimulates collagen fibers to align, breaks up adhesions and increases fiber elasticity.

Joint mobilization: stretches the joint capsule, enhances joint lubrication which leads to better function of the joint

Laser Therapy: Laser provides energy to cells in a targeted area. This results in improved blood flow and decreased inflammation. It has also been shown to increase cell healing and stimulate collagen synthesis.

Acupuncture- This is a medical practice that dates back thousands of years. Physiologically, acupuncture stimulates the central release of natural opioids. This activates pathways responsible for pain inhibition.

Acupuncture has improved quality of life for pets with arthritis, autoimmune joint disease, chronic back pain, disc disease, degenerating spinal cords, FCE, and quicker surgery recovery. Acupuncture also helps with general weakness caused by non -orthopedic diseases such as chronic bronchitis, cancer and kidney failure.

TENS: This is a treatment that uses electrical currents to treat pain. TENS reduces swelling, improves blood flow, and decreases pain perception. This especially helps with pain along sore back muscles.

Physical exercises: The exercises done at the clinic will help improve strength and build muscle. This is important not only for surgical recovery, but for older dogs that are weakening and slipping out in their back legs.

Exercises can/will increase the range of motion of joints and will actually reduce joint pain. This also slows the progression of arthritis.

 In clinic therapies will help to correctly pattern the gait (walking/trotting/running.) This helps build or rebuild the connection between the brain and the limbs after surgery, injuries or degenerative diseases.

PEMF – this is electromagnetic stimulation that assists in healing and pain control. This type of therapy is FDA approved for treating migraines in human medicine. In animals it is very useful on arthritic joints and sore muscles.

How can rehab help my pet/what conditions does rehab treat?

-Post-surgical recovery such as MPL repairs, ACL repairs (knee surgery), fracture repairs, back surgery, leg amputations, hip surgery.

-Chronic arthritis pain

-Weakness whether from spinal cord degeneration, aging, chronic injury

-Senior pet quality of life enrichment

-weight loss programs

-Injury prevention- if your dog has experienced an ACL tear, PT can reduce his/her chances of tearing the other ACL by 65%.

-conditioning for Canine Sports such as agility, Field trials, fly ball

What can I expect at a Rehab session?

Please budget an hour for the first appointment. The rehab therapist will perform a detailed assessment of your pet. That evaluation will include gait analysis, strength and function, posture, flexibility, joint mobility and if needed pain level.

A tailored home exercise program will be created. These exercises will be demonstrated and we can practice these at the next few sessions.

A specific treatment plan will be developed with the owner that includes modalities (see previous section), exercises and the frequency of visits.

It is important that an owner thoroughly understands their dogs evaluation, diagnosis and treatment plan. All questions will be answered thoroughly and a written hand out will be provided.