Restoring our patients' quality of life rehab vets

The Rehabilitation-Trained Veterinarian

A rehabilitation-trained veterinarian has advanced training, expertise and most importantly experience in the diagnosis and management of injury or illness causing pain and loss of function. Many rehabilitation-trained veterinarians have post-doctorate training in the areas of orthopedic surgery, pain management, acupuncture, chiropractic and/or rehabilitation that has led to specialization and/or certification in these fields

The rehabilitation-trained veterinarian is trained to evaluate the whole patient and not just focus on the perceived injury or illness. The rehabilitation-trained veterinarian has the ability to perform in-depth examinations, order diagnostic testing, and prescribe appropriate therapy to address the many different problems seen. Following evaluation the rehabilitation-trained veterinarian can perfect a treatment plan, monitor patient progress and adjust therapeutic recommendations to achieve success.

The rehabilitation-trained veterinarian is the leader of a health care team often comprised of registered veterinary technicians and physical therapists. This team provides the needed therapy to achieve maximum restoration of quality of life. Of primary importance in the rehabilitative process is the management of pain. Unlike the human patient, who can be encouraged to work through varying levels of pain to achieve results, the veterinary patient is not open to such suggestions. Without the proper management of pain the veterinary patient is often destined for rehabilitation failure.

In addition to prescribing and administering pharmaceuticals for pain the rehabilitation-trained veterinarian can offer physical modalities (i.e. acupuncture, chiropractic, therapeutic laser, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), pulsed signal therapy, etc.). This multimodal approach to the management of pain gives greater opportunity for a successful outcome.

Rehabilitation is a new field in veterinary medicine and rehabilitation-trained veterinarians are building a foundation for its future. The American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians has been formed to provide leadership to the veterinary community and assistance to the public through education, research and the sharing of professional experiences. It is our hope to work with local, state, national and international veterinary associations, state boards of veterinary medical examiners, veterinary schools and students, veterinary specialists, primary care veterinarians, public groups and public organizations to further the understanding of the tremendous benefits of rehabilitation in animals.

Mattie and Dr. Sybil Davis

Photos courtesy of Sybil Davis, DVM, CCRP, Aiken Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation, Aiken, SC


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