Frequently Asked Questions

What is physical rehabilitation?

Veterinary physical rehabilitation is based on science and principles similar to those behind human physical rehabilitation. Depending on the condition being treated, various exercises are incorporated to increase the range of motion, improve balance, and strengthen muscles overall. Reducing pain is also an important goal of many rehab programs. Pain may be managed by using a variety of mechanisms such as massage, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice/heat therapy.

Who can provide physical rehabilitation for animals? What is a CCRP?

Although any veterinarian in NC can practice physical rehabilitation for animals, we are proud to have Dr. Mark Ledyard, a veterinarian who  completed the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) program through the University of Tennessee and Northeast Seminars of New Hampshire in 2015.  In 2018, Emily Freeman, MSPT, joined our staff and also completed this same program, entering from the background of human physical therapy.  The CCRP program involves a sequence of postgraduate courses for veterinarians, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and veterinary technicians, followed by supervised clinical experience and a cumulative examination. The program is instructed by veterinarians and physical therapists who are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists. Upon successful completion of the program and examination, participants receive the designation of Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP).

What conditions can be improved with rehab?

Recovery from orthopedic surgeries can be dramatically enhanced with a physical rehabilitation program.  Numerous other conditions can also benefit greatly from rehab intervention.  Such conditions include:  orthopedic trauma, disc injuries, neurological diseases, hip dysplasia, soft tissue sprains/strains and arthritis.  Most limitations involving stiffness, trauma, pain, muscle atrophy, imbalance, or inflammation can benefit! Physical rehab is not limited to canines… a variety of species have been successfully treated at our facility.

What does a physical rehabilitation program include?

Physical rehabilitation treatment plans vary widely depending upon each animal’s needs.  We offer aquatic therapy in the form of underwater treadmill work, or swimming in our therapy pool.  Land-based interventions may include therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, gait training, laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field, heat or cold therapy.  We are also pleased to offer an interactive home exercise and client education service, accessible on computers or mobile devices, that your CCRP can customize to your pet’s specific needs.

What should I expect at my first visit?

When you contact us to schedule your pet for physical rehabilitation, we will first arrange  a consultation with a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP).  A consultation generally takes 40-60 minutes. The exam involves a detailed questionnaire and discussion of the problems, symptoms, and ultimate goals for recovery, as well as a complete orthopedic and/or neurologic exam. If indicated, a computerized treadmill gait analysis may also be performed.  If it is determined that your pet may benefit from rehabilitation interventions, the CCRP will recommend a customized rehab program, and will instruct you in appropriate home exercises if needed.  If you wish to begin rehabilitation treatments, we can often arrange for the first session to occur that same day.

My dog doesn’t like water…

Hydrotherapy using either our underwater treadmill or our therapeutic swimming pool is a highly beneficial rehab modality that helps with muscle strengthening, neurologic feedback, and comfortable exercise that encourages normal movement / gait patterns. Many animals benefit from having hydrotherapy as part of the rehab process, but there are generally  a variety of ways to accomplish treatment goals.  We have experience with gradually introducing our more hesitant patients to the water, but certainly there are cases that simply don’t respond optimally in the water environment.  We tailor each patient’s program to their specific needs, to ensure the most benefit is achieved from our services.

My dog doesn’t like being touched…

Our staff is sensitive to the needs of our rehab patients. Many patients are nervous and not accustomed to time away from home or family. Most patients appreciate the low-stress, gentle nature of our rehab staff and respond well to working with a small team, usually interacting with the same assistant from session to session.  We emphasize positive reinforcement throughout our sessions.  Safety of both your pet and our staff is always our top priority.  Our staff will let you know if it seems your pet would perform best with you present, or if we are not able to complete rehab successfully or safely.

My dog doesn’t like other dogs…

Though the Canine Social Club (doggie daycare and enrichment facility) is housed in the same building, your pet will not socialize with other dogs during their stay at the Animal Rehab Center. When not receiving therapy, your pet will rest in a clean individual run or kennel with access to water and a comfortable blanket or bed, away from the Social Club members. They will be taken outside for bathroom breaks multiple times throughout the day.