Our animal clinic proudly provides rehabilitative care for your pets. Specifically, canine rehabilitation is a relatively new field that has quickly become a rapidly expanding area of veterinary medicine. Physical therapy in humans is commonplace and accepted as routine procedure after surgery and/or injury. Most of our veterinary techniques and procedures for small animals have been adapted from the human physical therapy world. We’ve found that companion animal rehabilitation has been underutilized despite its documented importance and obvious value. Rehabilitation for our pets provides many notable benefits, including increased speed of recovery, improved performance and quality of movement, increased strength and endurance, and reduced pain. Rehabilitative canine care can also prevent further injuries, decrease the need for some medications, improve or preserve muscle, nerve, and joint function, improve biomechanics and flexibility, and provide positive psychological effects for both the animal and its owner.
Many conditions in our pets are amenable to rehabilitation. Many of our older arthritic dogs are helped by medication but incorporating physical rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise can significantly enhance their quality of life. Regular low impact exercises help build muscle mass, enhance cardiovascular conditioning, and improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Aquatic therapies such as walking in an underwater treadmill or swimming are especially beneficial. Overweight dogs can also benefit from similar activities as part of a weight loss program. Performance problems in canine athletes may be addressed with therapeutic exercises. Even canine athletes and working dogs in good shape can benefit from conditioning and training exercises to improve their overall fitness and performance.
The recovery from many surgical procedures will be more rapid and complete with post operative rehabilitation. Dogs that have a ruptured cruciate ligament in their knee can lose a third of the muscle mass in their thigh following surgery. Physical therapy exercises can help maintain the range of motion in their knee and the muscle mass in the thigh. Surgery to repair luxating patellas in the knees can also be successfully rehabbed to avoid disuse of the limb and continued lameness. Hip surgeries such as a total hip replacement and a femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) also benefit from controlled exercise. Dogs that have had other orthopedic procedures, such as a fracture repair, will benefit from physical therapy as part of their treatment plan. Many times after an orthopedic repair, a dog cannot be allowed to bear full weight on a limb but disuse atrophy can become a problem if the limb is completely immobilized. Muscles can also develop a contracture if maintained in only one position. Therapeutic exercises can work to maintain muscle tone and joint range of motion while allowing the orthopedic repair to adequately heal.
Rehabilitation is also important for dogs with neurologic diseases. Dogs with intervertebral disc disease that have surgery often need extensive rehabilitation depending on the extent of their neurologic deficits (weakness/paralysis) in their rear limbs. Paralyzed dogs often stand and even start to move their limbs in water before they are able to stand on their own on land. Patients with back problems that are not surgical candidates also need rehabilitation exercises. Other neurologic problems like degenerative myelopathy or fibrocartilagenous embolism (FCE) do not have surgical options for treatment. These conditions require more long term nursing care and rehabilitation provides many benefits. Rehabilitation goals for these patients will be to prevent muscular atrophy, improve limb function, and alleviate secondary pain symptoms.
The rehabilitation program at Lake Olympia Animal Hospital is run by Dr. Adrianne Brode and her LIcensed Veterinary Technician, Eva Burleson. They have both completed rehabilitation training through the University of Tennessee in order to become Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practioners (CCRP). We have a dedicated rehabilitation room that has two underwater treadmills, a land treadmill, and ample open space for a variety of therapeutic exercises. Exercise balls, physiorolls, balancing boards, cavaletti rails, and a variety of “toys” are used for therapeutic exercises. These exercises have proven health benefits for your canine! Exercises vary with the individual patient and are designed with specific rehab goals in mind. Electrical stimulation (e-stim) units are used to stimulate weak muscles and prevent atrophy. Pulsed electromagnetic therapy (PEMF) units decrease pain and inflammation and promote healing. Therapeutic laser treatments provide pain relief, decrease inflammation, decrease swelling, and promote healing. Therapeutic massage helps relieve tight muscles, including myofascial trigger points. Addressing muscle pain improves overall function as well as joint range of motion and overall mobility.
At Lake Olympia Animal Hospital, we find rehabilitative care to be a crucial element of our veterinary services.