Physical rehabilitation in animals is based on principles similar to those in human therapy. 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 rehab. Pain is managed by using a variety of mechanisms such as massage, electrical stimulation, and ice/heat therapy.
Although any veterinarian in NC can practice physical rehabilitation for animals, the Animal Rehab Center is headed up by a veterinarian who has completed an extensive Certificate Program in Canine Physical Rehabilitation through the University of Tennessee and Northeast Seminars of New Hampshire. This program involves a sequence of postgraduate courses for veterinarians, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and veterinary technicians or students of these professions, followed by supervised clinical experience and a cumulative examination. The program is instructed by veterinarians and physical therapists, the majority of whom are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. Upon successful completion of the program and examination, participants receive the designation of Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP). Dr. Mark Ledyard earned his CCRP certification in 2015.
Orthopedic trauma, disc injuries, neurological diseases, hip dysplasia, soft tissue sprains/strains and arthritis are just a few examples of conditions improved by physical rehabilitation. Additionally, recovery from orthopedic surgeries can be dramatically enhanced with a physical rehabilitation program. Basically, any problem involving stiffness, trauma, pain, muscle atrophy, imbalance, or inflammation can benefit! Any species of animal can benefit from rehab, too.
A physical rehab consultation takes 40-60 minutes and is performed by a certified rehabilitation veterinarian (CCRP). 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 and pain and lameness score. During this initial appointment or on day 1 of therapy, muscle girth dimensions and range of motion measurements (goniometry) are taken. The doctor will recommend an individually-tailored rehab program for the patient, as well as instruct the client on how to begin home exercises.
Hydrotherapy using either the underwater treadmill or the therapeutic swimming pool is a highly beneficial rehab modality that helps with muscle strengthening, neurologic feedback, and comfortable exercise that encourages normal gait patterns. Most animals benefit from having hydrotherapy as part of the rehab process. 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.
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, often interacting with the same assistant from week to week. Though we always use positive reinforcement, our staff will let you know if your pet would perform best with you present, or if we are not able to complete rehab successfully or safely.
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.