Veterinary rehabilitation and physiotherapy have recently gained recognition as an important and integral part of the management of orthopaedic, musculoskeletal, neurological, age related and canine sporting athletic dog conditions. Rehabilitation therapy can assist with the treatment of the conditions mentioned above and has the aim of maximising return to function as quickly as possible after surgery or injury as well as slowing down the progression of existing chronic diseases. It can also be useful in training for peak performance in a healthy canine athlete.
Canine rehabilitation applies human physical therapy principles and techniques as well as specialised veterinary modalities to the animal being treated.
After examination and diagnosis an individualised treatment plan is designed, this may include soft tissue techniques, e.g. stretches, massage and range of motion exercises as well as therapeutic exercises, joint mobilisation, neuromuscular re-education, as well as the use of other modalities such as E-stim, NMES phototherapy, PEMF, acupuncture, and the use of therapeutic laser to help control, pain, inflammation and speed up tissue repair.
Ann Hutchison, one of the partners at Dalblair vets is one of the few vets in the UK to be certified in canine rehabilitation by the Canine Rehabilitation Institute - www.caninerehabinstitute.com. If you would like to discuss any aspect of rehabilitation please contact the surgery for an appointment.
Here is a brief description and photos of some of the rehabilitation modalities that we use at Dalblair vets.
- Cryotherapy - This is the use of applying superficial 'cold therapy'. Controlled application of cold to an area will reduce blood flow by causing the blood vessels to constrict. This is most frequently used post operatively in some orthopaedic operations to reduce swelling and to help with pain control.
- Massage - The benefits of massage are well known to many of us and animals can benefit from the same techniques used on humans. It can also be used to help prepare the tissues prior to other therapies being applied as it can ease tight muscles and help to bring in the blood supply and healing cells. The bones, joints and muscles all work together and there is little point in restoring mobility and relieving pain in a joint if the muscles that control that joint are still tight and imbalanced.
- EMS - electrical muscle stimulation, sometimes called E-Stim. This is a machine that can be used to electrically stimulate the muscle fibres to contract by passing a current on to pads that are placed on particular areas on the muscle being worked on. For example after surgery on the knee joint to help prevent the associated muscles from becoming weak, as part of the rehab programme the EMS pads can be placed on the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles and by stimulating them to contract simultaneously the muscles can be exercised without moving the joint..
- TENS - This uses the same machine as above but by using different settings and working on sensory rather than movement fibres can be helpful to control pain whilst the current is applied to the pads.
- Laser therapy - Laser therapy has been proven to be of benefit in reducing pain, muscle spasm, and inflammation as well as also increasing the speed of wound healing and therefore recovery time from surgery. This makes the laser therapy an ideal treatment choice for orthopaedic cases such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, chronic arthritis, sore backs, strains, and sprains. It also provides an accelerated healing treatment for surgical and trauma wounds by reducing the pain and inflammation usually associated with these thereby allowing the animal to have a quicker and more comfortable post operative healing experience. The treatments do not require sedation or anaesthetic and most animals relax and enjoy this treatment. During the treatment the laser is passed over and or around the joint or area involved and the deep penetrating light increases the circulation and with it brings in oxygen and nutrients creating a beneficial environment promoting healing of damaged cells.
The response to treatment varies with the condition being treated and the individual patient but may be seen as quickly as 12-24 hours after the first treatment. However the effect is cumulative and most patients get the most benefit by having several treatments within a given time period. A typical treatment regime could involve 2-3 treatments in the first week then a weekly treatment for the next 3 weeks. Monthly follow up treatments for chronic conditions are sometimes indicated.