Each patient receives a thorough physical examination and
rehabilitation assessment prior to planning a customized
rehabilitation plan. The initial assessment may include
measurements of joint range of motion, muscle mass, body condition scoring and lameness scoring.
Pain assessments are also made on every animal. The initial
evaluation may include consults with other specialists in the
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for other health issues if
they may impact the rehabilitation program.
New clients can expect to have an in-depth discussion of
pertinent medical and surgical history, to give the rehabilitation
team a complete understanding of the patient's health status. After
completing the initial assessment, we will discuss our goals for
the patient and the proposed rehabilitation plan. Our
rehabilitation plans incorporate a holistic approach. We consider
all the potential health issues and routinely discuss topics such
as pain management and optimal diet.
We also provide phone consultations with veterinarians for
patients that they are treating and patients they wish to
Dogs and cats undergoing neurologic or orthopedic surgery at
VMTH typically begin receiving some basic rehabilitative therapies
as soon as they leave the operating room. Patients who remain in
the hospital after surgery will receive therapy, based on the
recommendation of the clinician caring for the patient.
Therapy on an out-patient basis is indicated for many surgical
patients after they have been discharged from the hospital.
Out-patient therapy may also be indicated for patients who have not
had surgery. This may be the situation if the patient has a
condition for which surgery is not indicated. In some cases,
surgery may be indicated but is declined for medical or financial
Out-patient therapy is often two or three times weekly, with the
patient being dropped off and picked up at the client's
convenience. If ti is more convenient, patients may be boarded in
order to receive rehabilitation therapy.
Custom Weight Loss and Fitness Programs
The key to any weight loss program is a combination of diet and
exercise. VSMR offers dietary consultation and can provide
guidelines for exercises to be done at home. The home exercise
program may be done alone, or to complement exercises performed at
Healthy dogs can also benefit from a regular exercise program.
Regular work-outs in the aquatic treadmill provide great exercise
for dogs that need to stay fit or for canine athletes who need to
stay in top condition for their sport or work activities.
Acute and Chronic Pain Management
Many therapies use during physical rehabilitation can help to
manage pain. Some examples include hot packs, cold packs,
therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, laser therapy, and
in some cases, exercise. In addition, medications are often needed
to manage pain, and we provide recommendations for prescription
medications and dietary supplements.
Individualized Home Exercise Program
Every patient who receives rehabilitation at Texas A&M will
receive an individualized home exercise program at the time of
discharge. The home exercise program will include specific,
detailed instructions to help you and your pet achieve your
Therapeutic exercises is a key component of most rehabilitation
programs. Therapeutic exercises may include simple weight-shifting
activities or working on a therapy ball to improve strength and
balance. Strength and joint motion may also be improved by many
activities, some of which include walking over cavaletti rails,
walking around weave poles, and crawling through tunnels. We also
use a treadmill that was designed specifically for dogs. Animals
with weakness or coordination problems may be assisted by use of a
mobile hoist or slings.
Treadmill (Underwater Treadmill)
The aquatic treadmill provides a type of therapeutic exercise
that is particularly helpful to enable injured or weak
animals to exercise. Aquatic therapy provides buoyancy, so your pet
does not have to support its full body weight. Water provides
resistance to every movement, which helps strengthen and build
muscle. In addition, the pressure and warmth of the water can
assist in pain relief. Our treadmill also has water jets, which can
be used to increase resistance during exercise or for a spa effect
to relax when the treadmill belt is not moving. The aquatic
treadmill can be used for cardiopulmonary conditioning, which can
be very beneficial for improving performance in working dogs or for
helping obese animals to exercise and lose weight.
Thermal agents (heat or cold) can be applied directly to a part
of the body. Both cryotherapy (cooling) and superficial heat help
with pain control. Cryotherapy is used after acute injuries or
surgery to decrease pain and to help reduce inflammation and
swelling. If a patient has severe tissue injury, a circulating
cold-compression unit may be used. This has a sleeve which is
wrapped around the affected area to compress it while ice water is
circulated within the sleeve.
Therapeutic ultrasound provides deep tissue heating to relieve
pain and assist with stretching of injured muscles. Therapeutic
ultrasound may also be used to decrease inflammation in tendons or
reduce scar tissue formation.
Electrical stimulation is used in basically two
1) Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a type of
electrical stimulation that is used to prevent muscle atrophy,
increase strength in a specific muscle group, or reeducate muscle
function in paralyzed animals. A low level electrical current is
applied to muscle tissue using electrode patches on this skin,
which results in a muscle contraction.
2) Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a type
of electrical stimulation used to reduce pain in an area.
Laser light is promoted as a therapy to reduce pain and enhance
wound healing. It is a fast, painless treatment. Low-level
laser therapy (LLLT) is also called 'cold' laser, and
typically delivered by Class IIIb lasers. Some therapists
prefer higher power lasers (e.g. 'Class IV lasers'), because the
treatment time is shorter.
Acupuncture may be included in the therapeutic program
to help control pain. Acupuncture is considered to be an
'alternate therapy' by the state of Texas, but may be performed
with client consent. Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial in
the treatment of some types of pain in people, and we use a
science-based approach to acupuncture treatments. We often use
electroacupuncture, which is similar to TENS (see Electrical Stimulation). We also use dry needling
to treat trigger points and other localized pain.
Manual therapy involves various techniques in which therapists
use their hands to affect the muscles, ligaments, and
other soft tissues. Much of the manual therapy that we perform
includes passive range of motion, stretching, joint compressions,
massage, and myofascial release.
Custom Orthotics and
An orthotic is a device that provides support to a body part,
while a prosthetic is a device that replaces a body part. Orthotics
may be used on a temporary basis to protect an area that is
recovering from an injury or surgery. Orthotics may also be used in
cases where there is permanent dysfunction. We can create custom
splints and low temperature thermoplastic splints. For more complex
problems, we can order and help fit commercially made orthotics and
Some dogs who have a neurologic condition or severe
musculoskeletal problems may need a cart to give them independent
mobility. We measure the patient prior to ordering a cart and will
help adjust the cart for best fit and function. We can also
evaluated and fit a cart that has already been purchased.
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