Physical therapy/rehabilitation is a very useful and sought after modality for humans and until recently has caught the eye of the veterinary profession.
It was not uncommon for veterinarians to recommend 3-6 weeks of cage rest postoperatively for orthopedic surgeries. Veterinarians can now incorporate animal rehabilitation into their practice expand their knowledge by studying at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute or a program at the University of Tennessee. Animal rehabilitation therapy has been shown to speed healing and return to function after trauma or surgery. Therapies are used to strengthen muscle and prevent atrophy, decrease edema/swelling, and improve range of motion. An underwater treadmill is utilized to build strength by walking the animals in heated water on a treadmill. The buoyancy takes the weight off arthritic and postsurgical joints and the warm water improves circulation and range of motion. This modality may be combined with acupuncture for optimal effect. Owners are taught exercises (if applicable) to help with range of motion, improve muscle tone and prevent joint contracture. Dr. Tyneway has also been uniquely trained to work with the canine athlete to improve coordination, muscle strength, and cardiovascular function for agility and other physical competition.
Pets that would benefit from the underwater treadmill are those that need muscle strengthening and improved joint function. Such indications would include conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, dogs that are rehabilitating from neurological injuries such as disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, and fibrocartilagenous emboli (similar to a stroke in humans). Patients recovering from fracture repair, cranial cruciate rupture repair, and hip surgery (replacement, femoral head ostectomy) would benefit as well.
Patients have the option of an integrative approach to their problem as acupuncture may be added for pain management as needed.