Physical therapy for animals addresses physical impairments or disabilities by promoting mobility, returning functional movement patterns and improving the quality of life for animals. This is done through examination, evaluation and physical interventions. A variety of therapeutic interventions such as manual (hands-on) techniques and massage with prescribed exercises are utilized to teach and restore proper movement strategies, restore balance reactions and guide coordinated movements.
These techniques are used in conjunction with physical modalities to reduce pain and inflammation, promote tissue healing and promote strengthening. Modalities used to accomplish this include, but are not limited to, laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat and cold therapy, and hydrotherapy in an underwater treadmill. The combination of therapeutic exercises along with these modalities, and often a home exercise/ leash walking program can provide animals a holistic approach to recovery back to their pre-existing level of function.
Physical therapy can often be a beneficial alternative to surgical interventions and long term use of medications.
The type and duration of treatment is based on the condition being treated and where in the healing process the injury is.
In addition, the owner’s goals for the animal are considered. Starting physical therapy earlier in the healing process is beneficial to accelerate the recovery time with faster positive outcomes. Intervention can be beneficial at all stages of healing, but better outcomes are associated with earlier intervention.
Outcomes are often hampered by postponing physical therapy treatments into the chronic stage of recovery. Intervention in the chronic stage of healing (3 months or longer from date of injury) is often complicated due to tissue shortening, muscle atrophy and contracture of joints, but none the less, should be addressed to prevent permanent deformity.
Animal Physical Therapy is a complimentary and alternative therapeutic intervention that works by referral process with your veterinarian and is NOT meant to take the place of proper veterinary care.