We utilize traditional therapies such as medications along with techniques derived from physical therapy such as soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, and therapeutic exercise. Cutting edge modalities like low-level LASER therapy, cold compression, and neuromuscular electrical stimulation are also employed to provide a complete range of services to our clients and patients.
Pain and decreased function are responsible for decreasing patients’ quality of life and potentially their length of life as well. Returning patients to full function as soon as possible with less pain will improve their recovery. We also sell products that support our services, like nutritional supplements, harnesses, and home exercise devices.
Soft Tissue Mobilizations:
Soft tissue mobilization encompasses a wide variety of treatments applied with the hands. The goal of these treatments is usually to increase movement in some direction. Examples include joint mobilizations to regain normal movement within the joint, stretching exercises to increase flexibility in a muscle, ischemic compression to treat knots within the muscle, or effleurage to reduce edema and pain in the limbs. Often it can be difficult for an observer to see the treatment being performed, as some of the movements of the veterinarian’s hands are very small. However, these can have an immediate effect on pain. These are included with every assessment at our practice.
This is the best way to train the muscles for basic functions like standing and sitting, and more advanced exercise like agility or running. Exercise addresses the strength of muscles, but also the coordination of muscles to perform a movement smoothly. Specific exercises are prescribed for pets depending on any functional problems at home, the nature of their injury, illness, or surgery, areas of weakness, and goals. Not all exercises are good for each patient, which is why it is important to follow an individualized therapeutic exercise program. After each assessment, clients go home with a detailed and individualized home exercise program for their pet.
Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body. In simpler terms, it is your knowledge of where the various parts of your body in relation to one another. Dogs with neurologic problems or older dogs with weakness may trip and fall, leading to additional injury. Proprioceptive conditioning uses specific techniques, mostly derived from human physical therapy research, to train to body to be more aware. This can be useful to any dog undergoing rehabilitation, but is particularly helpful to those dogs with neurologic issues. Some of these exercises may be repeated at home to speed recovery.
Low Level LASER Therapy:
Low level LASER therapy has been used for many conditions in both human and veterinary medicine. These LASERs are lower power than a surgical LASER, but have been shown to have biostimulatory effects to aid healing from a cellular level. We use the LunimexVet from Respond Systems; please see their website at www.respondsystems.com Link to their paper on LASER? CLICK HERE
Cryotherapy is most helpful in the first 72 hours after an injury to minimize damage and speed healing. Cold has local effects to reduce pain and inhibit muscle spasms, and can also reduce bleeding due to constriction of blood vessels. It also decreases the demand of these tissues for oxygen by lowering the metabolic rate, and making it easier for the body to start to repair itself. We utilize a GameReady system, which simultaneously provides consistent cold with compression, aiding in reduction of swelling. Because the cold water is contained within a sleeve, the patient does not get wet, and this therapy can even be applied through 3 inches of bandage. The cyclical compression cycle can actually drive edema and swelling out of tissues. We utilize this therapy on all orthopedic post-operative patients at the Veterinary Surgical Referral Practice as they are recovering from anesthesia, starting to aid recovery as quickly as possible.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS):
NMES is used to address muscular weakness; it can stimulate a muscle contraction through use of a mild electrical current. This can prevent disuse atrophy in patients who are unable or unwilling to actively contract a muscle. The electrodes can also be applied to provide greater motor unit recruitment during therapeutic exercise of a weak patient. TENS is used to stimulate sensory nerves rather than motor nerves, and reduces pain sensation through use of the gate theory. These therapies are more likely to be used on patients with neurologic dysfunction, or those with more chronic conditions.
Neurological Facilitation and Inhibition Therapy:
Different neurologic dysfunctions may cause either decreased nerve input or increased nerve input. By focusing on the areas that are not functioning properly, we can “wake up” nerves that are not being used, or help suppress extra nerve impulses that may be painful. This therapy is based on human physical therapy principles, and may involve one or more approaches to motor learning. Examples include using sensory stimulation to elicit adaptive (reflexive) responses, inhibitory techniques for hypertonicity, or facilitation for hypotonic muscules.