Depending on the condition being treated, a variety of interventions are used to effectively increase range of motion, improve balance, optimize coordination, decrease pain, and strengthen muscles.
Perfect for athletic conditioning or recovery from injuries, the Animal Rehab Center offers two different ground treadmills.The treadmill encourages feet to follow a more normal gait pattern, often improving active range of motion, as well as the rhythm of weight shifting and gait. This helps muscles strengthen and allows tissues to heal in a manner that promotes optimal function. One of the treadmills is outfitted with a video camera and sensors beneath the belt, and attached to special computer software which allows analysis of several aspects of gait, including step length, time spent standing on each limb, and percent of body weight placed on each limb. This specialized tool helps to diagnose subtle lameness, and helps us track progress in treatment.
Balance equipment is used for improving an animal’s ability to accept and support weight through a limb(s), and for improving proprioception. With injuries, animals will often decrease use of a certain limb. Balance equipment can be used to re-train the muscles and nerves to place more weight on the affected area, when it appropriate to do so. Additionally, controlled challenges to the animal’s center of balance can result in improved coordination and responsiveness, and decreased falls.
Many focused exercises have been tailored and modified for animals, based on exercises used in human physical training and rehabilitation. Cavaletti rails are obstacles that encourage increased active flexion of the legs and improved coordination. Other exercises, such as Cone Weaving, Sit to Stands, or Wheelbarrows, just to name a few, can improve weight bearing and muscle strength in specific areas.
Massage in animals is based on very similar techniques to those used with humans. Massage can be very effective for pain relief, and can also treat secondary muscle tension, inflammation of joints and nerves, and effusion (swelling) of soft tissues. Massage generally begins superficially, gradually reaching deeper tissues as needed. Heat and ice therapy are a great compliment to massage, additionally helping decrease pain. Heat will often be used to improve flexibility just prior to passive range of motion, and ice therapy will help decrease swelling and inflammation after surgery or an active day of exercise.