Pet Physical Rehabilitation
Welcome to our "Whole Body Pain Relief, Rehabilitation, & Fitness Program" web page
Aquatic Therapy Underwater Treadmill Benefits
Improve Surgical Recovery - really helps to get post-surgery pets using their leg again. The water support (buoyancy) allows them to begin using their leg better due to the reduced weight load on the affected limb.
Improve Strength - helps build muscle to better support arthritic joints, which ultimately decreases joint pain.
Heated Water - decreases joint pain, improves circulation to muscles, increases flexibility. Remember the last time you were in a hot tub?
Improve Cardiorespiratory Endurance - remember the last time you walked in knee to waist deep water, went swimming, or had a water aerobics workout?
Improve/Stimulate Nerve Function - can help neurologic patients that are unable to ambulate without the support of water. Helps to get nerves "communicating" again
Weight Loss - will help reduce the whole body weight load on joints...reducing pain.
Improve Flexibility - the extra support of water will help improve range of motion and flexibility.
Intensity Adjustments - for athletic pets, we are able to tailor these sessions to take an anaerobic, more intense/interval workout approach. Our underwater treadmill has the capabilities to use water jets, incline, and increase speed.
Mental Stimulation - most pets really do enjoy using the underwater treadmill. It can be a fun activity for everyone.
Dr. Robb & Karleigh can review numerous options regarding your pet’s rehabilitation and healthy lifestyle program. We can tailor the program to fit the needs of both you and your pet.
What is Physical Rehabilitation?
Physical Rehabilitation is the use of non-invasive techniques to improve function and recovery from both recent and long-term conditions. The goal is to promote optimal function and fitness, aid with pain relief, and help your pet’s overall quality of life. This can involve using therapeutic exercises (e.g., leash walking, range of motion exercises, aquatic therapy, balance exercises) combined with other modalities (e.g., therapeutic ultrasound, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, therapeutic laser, acupuncture, heat/cold therapy).
Benefits of Physical Rehabilitation
Any pet with chronic pain/arthritis, previous or planned orthopedic/soft tissue/neurological surgery, obesity, etc. can benefit from physical rehabilitation. They can experience improved function, speed of recovery, reduced pain, prevention of future injury, and can improve their overall quality of life.
This is one of the most important modalities in physical rehabilitation. The goal is to help your pet return to the best function possible, reduce/eliminate pain, and enhance their overall quality of life.
Just a few examples:
Joint Motion Exercises (e.g., controlled incline and decline walking, passive range of motion and stretching, sit-to-stand, cavaletti rails, tunnel walking)
Conditioning Exercises (e.g., treadmill walking, jogging, playing ball)
Strength Exercises (e.g., pulling weights, jumping, using leg weights when shaking paw/walking)
Proprioception and Balance (e.g., paddle boarding, weight shifting, balance board, exercise roll)
Feline Exercises (yes, cats can have rehab too). A few examples: chasing a laser light, walking with a harness, weight shifting activities, low cavaletti rails)
There are many benefits from aquatic therapy. This therapy can improve strength, endurance, and range of motion. Dogs reluctant to use a limb on land may actually use it in the water to swim or walk.
Therapeutic Laser Therapy
Therapeutic laser therapy is becoming incorporated in different aspects of physical rehabilitation. Lasers used in rehabilitation essentially help to modify cellular functions. The benefits can include soft tissue pain relief, joint/arthritis pain relief, reduced inflammation, accelerated wound healing and tissue repair, etc.
This can be helpful with reducing pain, increasing range of motion, reducing stiffness, improving blood flow, etc. The energy from the sound beam essentially provides heat and helps warm up superficial and deep tissues.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
This can increase muscle strength and conditioning, increase range of motion, reduce pain, reduce edema, accelerate wound healing, etc. Pets with muscle atrophy from not using their legs well can benefit from the muscle contractions provided with this therapy.
Rehabilitation and pain/arthritis control can include complementary techniques such as acupuncture and spinal manipulation. Chinese herbal formulas can be incorporated as well. We will be glad to refer you to Dr. Lord for a consultation at any time. This wonderful service is offered at Anderson’s Corner Animal Hospital 1 to 2 times a week. (804) 325-1600. www.fourpawsholistic.com
Walking on a treadmill can be a very useful therapeutic exercise. This is useful for patterning the gait and encouraging initial weight bearing following surgery, osteoarthritis pain reduction by improving muscle mass supporting the joints, etc.
Cold therapy (cryotherapy) can help with reducing pain, swelling, blood flow, and tissue damage. This is used right after surgery or injury, as well as after exercise/rehabilitation to minimize adverse inflammatory responses. Ice packs/cold packs are commonly used for this therapy.
Heat therapy helps increase circulation, reduce pain, relax muscle tissue, and increase flexibility before stretching or exercise. Hot packs are commonly used to aid in warming up prior to exercise/rehabilitation.
This is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. Massage has many benefits, including aid with relieving muscle spasm, improving circulation, reducing edema, reducing incisional adhesions, and reducing pain.
Range of Motion and Stretching
This is important to aid with increasing flexibility, improving joint motion after injury or surgery, preventing adhesions, helping prevent further injury, etc.
Chondroprotectants, Pain/Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications/Nutraceuticals
Supplements/Medications/Nutraceuticals cannot be overlooked. Many pets can benefit from incorporating these into their rehabilitation protocol. Glucosamine with chondroitin, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycan may improve overall joint health. Chinese herbal formulas can also be incorporated. A major component of arthritic joint pain is due to the secondary inflammation. Therefore, pet non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can have significant benefits by reducing pain and inflammation. They can also help if given prior to and/or after a rehabilitation session. However, care needs to be taken with these medications since side effects are always possible. Most dogs tolerate them well, but periodic bloodwork is recommended. Occasionally, other pain relief medications may be added to the protocol, such as gabapentin. However, one of the goals of canine physical rehabilitation is to help reduce pain, which can ultimately help us reduce or sometimes even eliminate the need for pain relief medications. Every pet is unique when it comes to their rehabilitation program, and we tailor and adjust the program as we go along.
This is always an important aspect of physical rehabilitation. Overweight patients can benefit from a nutritional plan to promote gradual weight loss. This can improve recovery, reduce pain, aid with function and help prevent future injury. Pets at various stages of rehabilitation will need certain energy requirements to perform exercises to the best of their ability, improve with tissue recovery, etc. Nutrition can easily be overlooked, but it is a very important part of the physical rehabilitation process.
Tailored 4U Pet Therapy Program
I know that every pet and every situation is unique. One of the advantages of physical rehabilitation is that, with training, many of these techniques can be performed by you in your home environment. When reviewing various options regarding in-hospital and at-home rehabilitation, keep in mind that we can find success and tailor your pet’s program to whatever you choose.
There are many different options for Therapeutic Exercises that you can perform at home with your pet. Our goal is to help you identify which exercises are the best fit for BOTH you and your pet. Physical rehabilitation is unique because we can obtain positive outcomes in most all cases, whether you choose a few sessions or a multi-session package. The degree of improvement/success can vary to some degree, but we will usually help your pet no matter what plan you choose. For example, just getting your pet walking a little more can do wonders.
Basically, what I am saying is that our Whole Body Pain Relief, Rehabilitation, & Fitness Program can be tailored for you, with our ultimate goal being to help you, help your best friend with their physical rehabilitation.