Thanks to advances in the veterinary field we can now offer physical rehabilitation to our animal friends similar to what was once only available to humans.
Much of the same techniques and technologies can now be applied to pets to speed recovery, increase function and decrease discomfort. Physical rehabilitation encompasses a wide range of techniques, some of which be done at home, and some that should only be done by a certified specialist.
Simple exercises help strengthen muscles and keep joints flexible. Sit-to-stand where an animal repeatedly sits and then rises to a standing position, working the hind limbs just like squats for humans, is one example. For front limbs, side bends may be a good choice. To do side bends, a treat is held at the animal’s side and the pet then bends their neck to retrieve it. This forces them to bear more weight on the front limb it is bending towards.
Other more complicated exercises should only be done with a certified rehabilitation practitioner. Exercises balls, balance boards, and teeter-totters can all be employed to force animals to bear weight on limbs that they favor or have become weak from disuse.
Sophisticated technologies are also making their way into veterinary practice. Underwater treadmills are a great way for pets to get moving while decreasing the amount of weight they place on injured or recovering limbs. The added resistance of the water increases muscle building and the warmed water acts like a soothing hot tub. Some rehabilitation specialists also offer therapeutic ultrasound therapy, electrostimulation, cold laser therapy and other ways to increase healing and decrease discomfort.
These techniques are equally effective means to decrease arthritic pain in older animals and to help shed unwanted pounds. Instituting a rehabilitation plan should always be done with the guidance of a certified specialist and your veterinarian. So the next time you visit your vet, ask about animal rehabilitation. The benefits are endless.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to see if your pet is a candidate for physical rehabilitation/Underwater treadmill therapy, please contact us so we can assess their condition and individual needs.