What is Veterinary Rehabilitation?

Physical rehabilitation is the treatment of injury or illness to decrease pain and restore function. A rehabilitation veterinarian treats acute injuries soon after they have occurred and chronic injuries or diseases that have been affecting your pet for a long time. Rehabilitation is also important in speeding the recovery after orthopedic and neurologic surgery.

Goals of Rehabilitative Therapy

  • Maintain or restore joint range of motion
  • Improve muscular strength and coordination
  • Decreasing swelling
  • Manage pain
  • Promote healing
  • Improve weight bearing and prevent compensatory gaits
  • Prevent repetitive injuries in sporting dogs
  • Improve mobility in senior and arthritic pets
  • Weight loss in obese pets

Rehabilitative Techniques

Aqua treadmill therapy at NorthStar VETSPhysical rehabilitation is hands-on work. Using techniques such as massage (yes, pets love it as much as we do), mobilization of soft tissues and joints, and targeted therapeutic exercises, we are able to accomplish these goals. We incorporate lots of equipment that you have seen at your gym or physical therapy office, such as exercise balls and bands, stairs, water treadmills, ramps and electro-stimualtion units. In addition, we commonly incorporate therapeutic laser which is a very useful modality that when applied to affected areas, can increase blood flow, decrease inflammation and improve cellular energy.

How pet owners can help rehabilitate their animals

Animals cannot rehabilitate themselves, so owner participation is a big part of what we do. All of our owners receive “homework” or exercises that we would like them to perform at home. Exercises are progressed over time as the animal becomes stronger. We also must be prepared to treat compensatory problems. Often, when a pet has been lame or painful for a long time, they change their body mechanics in an attempt to take the weight off the affected area or part of the body. As a result, other parts of the body can become affected. Rehabilitation addresses these common secondary conditions, using hands-on therapy such as massage, thermotherapy (ice or heat) or therapeutic laser (which increases cellular energy, decreases inflammation and improves blood flow).

Most of our rehabilitation patients really come to enjoy their time with us, and why not? Liberal doses of praise, lots of attention and plenty of treats seem to win over even the most skeptical pet!

For more information on rehabilitative therapy, visit the rehabilitation page at www.northstarvets.com or call us at 609.259.8300.

Pamela Levin, DVMPamela Levin, DVM, CVA, CCRT
Dr. Levin earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from the University of New Hampshire in 1992. She graduated from Ross University, School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 after completing her senior clinical rotations at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Levin has practiced as a small animal general practitioner and emergency and critical care veterinarian in New York, New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts. Pam has served as Director of Emergency Medicine at a small animal referral and emergency hospital in Massachusetts. Dr. Levin received her Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture in 2009 through The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and her Certification in Canine Rehabilitation Therapy in 2011 through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. Prior to joining NorthStar VETS in 2011, Dr. Levin served as staff acupuncturist at a small animal referral and emergency hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Levin’s areas of interest include improving patient’s quality of life though pain management, therapeutic exercise, and noninvasive alternative therapies. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, and the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

This entry was posted in Veterinary Medicine. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *