Rehabilitation: What is it and Why is it so Important?
Over the past few years, rehabilitation has become increasingly important in the post-operative and wellness management of our pets.
Pet owners are increasingly concerned about pain management, obesity and osteoarthritis and with current concerns about medications and their side effects, clients are looking for alternatives that can be used in addition or synergistically to improve their pet’s quality of life by improving their physical and mental well being.
Rehabilitation can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from getting them back on their feet following surgery to conditioning for a sporting event or helping geriatric patients enjoy life.
Whilst rehabilitation has been around in the human field since the early 1900’s, it is a relatively new part of animal care but it is rapidly growing, with a huge variety of options now available, from therapeutic exercises to laser therapy.
What is rehabilitation?
In essence, rehabilitation is the use of physical therapy to develop, maintain or restore a pet’s range of motion, strength and functional ability as well as decreasing pain.
When might a pet benefit from rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is beneficial to many pets-if your pet has had an injury or an orthopedic surgery or they are not able to perform their normal daily activities or tasks then rehabilitation can help. Pets with neurological conditions can also benefit, as can pets with obesity issues or osteoarthritis. If you have a sporting or working dog then conditioning can help improve their performance.
What conditions can be treated with rehabilitation?
Numerous conditions can be treated or managed using rehabilitation and include:
• Hip dysplasia
• Post-orthopedic surgery (cruciate repairs, patellar luxation etc0
• Limb amputation
• Elbow Dysplasia
• Shoulder OCD
• Disc Disease (IVDD)/spinal Injuries
• Sporting and soft tissue injuries
• Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
• Wound healing
• Chronic Pain
Why is rehabilitation important?
Rehabilitation can help many pets: from helping geriatric patients to maintain their independence and quality of life to helping sporting dogs participate in training and competition.
An important area of rehabilitation is following an injury, surgery or neurological condition such as a “slipped disc”. Traditionally, it was thought that strict cage rest was necessary for healing and recovery. However, more recent research has shown that for many of these conditions, rest alone may cause further harm as a result of reduced movement of the joints, muscle wastage, scar tissue formation, increased strain on other areas of the body etc. Rest, accompanied by pain management and controlled physical therapy has been shown to be much more beneficial in achieving a successful return to function.
What are the benefits of rehabilitation?
Below are just a few of the many benefits of rehabilitation:
• Increased speed of recovery from injury or following surgery
• Improved flexibility
• Decreased pain
• Weight loss
• Increased strength/endurance
• Improved performance and quality of movement
• Minimal complications
• Prevention of future injury
• What types of treatment are used in rehabilitation?
• There are numerous options available for use during rehabilitation. Currently,
• Grand Valley Animal Clinic offers the following:
• Thermotherapy (cold)
• Cryotherapy (heat)
• Hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill)
• Therapeutic exercise
• Therapeutic laser
What is the benefit of using a rehabilitation-trained veterinarian?
A rehabilitation trained veterinarian is a muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and bone expert who uses physical therapy to restore function and relieve pain. Only a veterinarian can provide whole body care, prescribe necessary medicines and perform a diagnostic evaluation prior to designing a treatment plan. Dr Vicky Sempers is currently undergoing her training to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP)-this is a unique certification program overseen by the University of Tennessee.
How do I access the rehabilitation services offered by Grand Valley Animal Clinic?
A referral from your pet’s veterinarian or surgeon is required to begin your pet’s rehabilitation process. A referral form is available on our website that can be downloaded and completed by your veterinarian. Prior to your first appointment, you will need to complete an owner form (available on our website) in order for your pet to participate in the rehabilitation services. This form can be faxed or emailed to us prior to the appointment or you can bring it with you to your first appointment.