Restoring our patients' quality of life rehab vets

Treatments Used

The following therapeutic modalities are used for treatment:

Hydro Therapy Land Treadmill
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation
Therapeutic Ultrasound Laser Therapy
Thermotherapy Therapeutic Massage
Joint Mobilization Pulsed Magnetic Therapy
Pulsed Signal Therapy Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
Passive Exercise Active Exercise
Acupuncture Veterinary Chiropractic
Bioelectrical Whirlpool Orthotics and Prosthetics
The Underwater Treadmill

The underwater treadmill is designed specifically for veterinary use and uses water to support your pet's weight while walking or running. The treadmill can be used in the very early stages of learning to move well again; the higher the water level, the more of your pet's weight that is supported. As strength and correct movement improves, the water level is lowered each session to further increase strength. Underwater treadmills can decrease recovery time from surgery, improve arthritis through low impact exercise, and improve cardivascular fitness. Swimming where the legs are not touching a surface is considered less specific and does not provide as much joint extension as the underwater treadmill.

  Calf in treadmill
Photo courtesy of Julia Tomlinson, BVSc(hons), MS, PhD DACVS, CCRP, CVSMT, Twin Cities Animal Rehabilitation, Burnsville, MN
Land Treadmill

Treadmills are useful for reprograming your pet's way of walking (gait) and encouraging use of an injured limb following surgery or injury. The action of the treadmill belt makes your pet's strides longer and more exaggerated and also provides some energy so that your pet does not have to do all the work. Later in recover, the land treadmill can be placed on an incline to increase effort and build muscle in the hind limbs.

  Dog on land treadmill
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is the administration of a low level electrical current that decreases swelling and allows muscle contraction and recruitment after orthopedic or neurological injury. Frequency, pulse duration, amplitude, waveform, on/off time, ramp and polarity of electrodes are all parameters that can be adjusted when using NMES in our patients. Indications for use of NMES are atrophy (muscle wasting), swelling and pain.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation (TENS) is used mostly for pain management. TENS decreases pain and inflammation by providing a low level electrical current which disrupts the normal pain perception pathways. The pulse rate and width can be controlled in order to deliver to desired effect. TENS also can be used to stimulate acupuncture points in order to achieve a body-wide response.

  Dog with NMES treatment
Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is commonly used on tendon and muscle injuries, and certain conditions resulting in decreased range of motion. Therapeutic Ultrasound breaks down scar tissue, increases the elasticity of the muscles, aids healing, increases circulation, and reduces pain and spasm.

  Therapeutic ultrasound in use
Laser Therapy

Laser therapy uses L.A.S.E.R (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) to repair tissues through photobiostimulation. Put simply, the cells in the injured areas use the energy of the laser to aid their healing. The intensity of the laser is less than that of lasers used in surgery. Laser therapy has been shown to relieve pain from muscle and joint soreness, relieve symptoms of arthritis, relax muscle spasms and increase blood flow to an area, helping wounds to heal.

  Laser therapy
Photo courtesy of Sybil Davis, DVM, CCRP, Aiken Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation, Aiken, SC

Thermotherapy is the therapeutic use of physical agents or means to heat or cool the body. Superficial heating of an area increases blood flow, reduces pain, increases extensibility of fibrous tissues, and aids in muscle relaxation. Special hot packs or infrared heat lamps are often used. Cold (cryo) therapy decreases cellular metabolism, leads to constriction of blood vessels, reduces pain, and reduces muscle spasms.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage increases circulation to improve healing, decreases pain and reduces swelling. Therapeutic massage can be used for acute or chronic problems, but the pressure and intensity of the massage will vary with the pain level of the patient. Therapeutic massage increases blood flow - which improves oxygen delivery to tissues; and breaks down scar tissue. Therapeutic massage also promotes mental and physical relaxation.

  Therapeutic massage
Joint Mobilization

Mobilization can be of great benefit to joints and allows for greater movement. Mobilization of the spinal column can provide relief from spasms and pain. The use of mobilization is important to restore function to many patients. There are grades (degrees) of mobilizations that a rehabilitation practitioner can apply to a joint depending on variables of the joint itself. This includes veterinary chiropractic (see below). Compression and distraction is used with stretching to achieve the desired non-painful result.

  Joint mobilization
Pulsed Magnetic Therapy

Pulsed magnetic field therapy was used primarily in treating horses for resolution of back and leg injuries. This was followed by widespread use with greyhounds, since these incur frequent sprains, ligament injuries and fractures, all of which respond well to pulsed magnetic field therapy. It is now used with other animals for similar injuries and has also been used to improve metabolism.

  Pulsed magnetic therapy
Pulsed Signal Therapy

PST, or Pulsed Signal Therapy is a new medical treatment now being offered to treat pain and injuries in small animals. PST consists of pulsed electromagnetic signals. Pulsed Signal Therapy can relieve the severity of joint pain and swelling and can improve mobility. PST signals mimic the normal healthy physiological signals, transmitted into the joint to promote the repair of damaged cells and to stimulate the repair and maintenance processes.

  Pulsed Signal Therapy
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is used for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain caused by arthritis, ligament injuries, scar tissue or other injuries. Therapy sessions provide successful relief of acute and chronic pain to restore painless mobility and stimulate bone growth and tissue regeneration.

  Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
Passive Therapeutic Exercise

Passive exercises consists of passive range of motion (PROM) and stretching exercises. Theses exercises are performed to help maintain or improve flexion and extension of joints, help the body's awareness of neuromuscular structure and function, and improve flexibility of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Passive exercise means movement not initiated by the patient. Passive range of motion exercises (PROM) are very important if the patient is not using a body part or has limited movement of a body part.

  Passive therapeutic exercise
Active Therapeutic Exercises

Active exercise involves your pet moving himself (with guidance from a human). While active exercise is in many ways the foundation of physical rehabilitation, the exercises must never cause overuse or strain. A rehabilitation practitioner should devise an individualized plan for your pet with specific goals and frequent re-evaluations. Examples of Active exercises and modalities used to perform active exercises: Active exercise involves your pet moving himself (with guidance from a human). While active exercise is in many ways the foundation of physical rehabilitation, the exercises must never cause overuse or strain. A rehabilitation practitioner should devise an individualized plan for your pet with specific goals and frequent re-evaluations.

Sit-to-stand Exercises
Standing Exercises
Stair climbing
Cavaletti rails
Physioball Exercise
Balance Board Exercises
Weight-Shifting Trampoline

Cavaletti rails
Photos courtesy of Kristin Kirkby, DVM, MS, CCRT, DACVS, Seattle Veterinary Specialists, Kirkland, WA



Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific areas on a dog to treat a diagnosed condition. These specific points are called acupuncture points and are mapped and diagramed for each species body. In veterinary practice, acupuncture may be used alone to treat musculoskeletal pain, or in conjunction with other therapies. Traditional Chinese medicine has used acupuncture for over 4000 years. It became accepted officially by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1998. Many veterinarians currently embrace both traditional and western medicine in an effort to provide the best care for their patients.

Veterinary Chiropractic

Chiropractic manipulation gently realigns the spine, corrects subluxations, relaxes the surrounding muscles and allows the gradual restoration of neurologic and biomechanical function. Chiropractic will help keep the musculoskeletal system functioning normally and prevent compenstatory injuries. Chiropractic is an integral part of the holistic trend in animal health care. The foundations of chiropractic philosophy are based on the intimate relationship of the spinal column to the nervous system, as well as the role of the spinal column in biomechanics and movement.

  Veterinary chiropractic
Bioelectric Whirlpool

Bioelectric Whirlpool Therapy is a form of treatment combining the benefits of hydrotherapy with the pain management benefits of electromedical therapy similar to TENS. This represents an avenue for providing pain relief for a variety of conditions.

  Bioelectric whirlpool
Orthotics and Prosthetics

Custom fitted splints, braces, carts and even prosthetics limbs are available from many rehabilitation veterinarians. These devices are used to support an injured limb while it heals, to correct a deformity or to encourage correct limb use. Carts are fitted to patients that are paralyzed or unable to walk without support.

  Orthotics and Prosthetics
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