Physical Rehabilitation in the Dog

physicalrehabdogThis newsletter features information from Jenny Jones, who is a physical therapist now on staff and heading the VSA Physical Rehabilitation service. As some of you know, by law, we cannot use the protected term of “physical therapy” when talking about this form of treatment in the dog – we use “physical rehabilitation” – but the theory and the practice is the same as physical therapy in humans. Dr. Jones holds a doctorate in physical therapy from the human medical field and is just finishing an internship to complete her certification in canine rehabilitation.

Having an individual with a background such as hers brings an exciting perspective to our physical rehabilitation program. As you will see in her article, it is not about finding the “cure” or “fixing the problem”, it is often about quality of life for the patient and the client and return of a pet’s mobility and functionality. Clients are often relieved that we can offer alternatives to medications or in conjunction with medications that they can participate in and help their companion for life with appropriate home exercises. We also take the time to discuss how changes in the home environment can also help with the patient’s mobility – something as simple as putting down yoga mats on hardwood floors can really help an older dog’s proprioceptive ability.

As a surgical facility supporting both surgeons and neurologists, physical rehabilitation is an obvious adjunctive piece of any recovery. Basically, any animal can benefit from a more formal rehabilitation program after surgery, but we know that is not always feasible for a client to commit to due to time or financial constraints. That is why our program can also be adapted as an outpatient program where a series of exercises can be shown to the client and the patient is reevaluated more frequently than during a traditional recovery process.

We realize that physical rehabilitation is not just about the underwater treadmill, but that each patient will be given an individual program that is designed to not only assist the patient in recovery but will fit with the client’s needs as well. Physical dimension to the treatment of our patients, and it is truly supportive of VSA’s mission of providing excellence in clinical practice for you, your clients, and your patients.

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