Physical Rehabilitation

Physical Rehabilitation

If your pet must undergo surgery, needs help recovering after an injury, or struggles with a condition such as arthritis, the physical rehabilitation department at AERA can help them live as actively and comfortably as possible. 

Veterinary rehabilitation can help produce healthier, more active pets—and happier pet parents. With a treatment plan tailored to your pet’s unique situation, rehabilitation can:

  • Improve range of motion in joints
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Speed functional recovery after surgery or trauma
  • Decrease swelling and pain
  • Maintain quality of life for aging pets or those with degenerative diseases
  • Reduce the risk of injury in canine athletes
  • Enhance fitness and conditioning
  • Aid in weight loss and reduce predisposition to certain illnesses

Research has shown that physical rehabilitation can hasten the healing process and help pets return to optimal function after surgery. Some conditions can even be treated with rehabilitation alone, avoiding surgery altogether. When surgery isn’t an option, as with certain chronic conditions, rehabilitation can help keep muscles in shape to support function and quality of life.

The most common conditions for which we provide rehabilitation therapy include: 

  • Strengthening and conditioning after orthopedic and spinal cord surgery
  • Managing chronic conditions such as arthritis, disc disease and pain
  • Recovery from soft-tissue injuries (sprains and strains)
  • Lameness, weakness, gait (walking) abnormalities
  • Weight management

After a thorough evaluation of your pet’s medical history, current physical limitations and lifestyle—and a discussion of your goals for your pet—we’ll develop a rehabilitation and pain management program tailored to your pet’s unique needs. This rehabilitation program may include:

  • Hydrotherapy on an underwater treadmill: Pets with neurological conditions can gain mobility and motor function with this low-impact exercise; overweight and post-surgical patients can gain strength and movement using the buoyancy and resistance of the water
  • Manual therapy: Joints are mobilized in specific ways, such as through massage, myofascial tissue release, stretching, or joint mobilization, to restore range of motion and function
  • Acupuncture:The use of small, sterile needles are used in specific points called meridians. Stimulating these meridians relieves pain, promotes anti-inflammatory and healing effects, and stimulates neuromuscular function. These effects make acupuncture an important therapy for the treatment of many orthopedic and neurologic conditions such as osteoarthritis, back pain, or disc disease.
  • Cold laser therapy: An infrared light that can penetrate through tissue is used to increase circulation, accelerate cell growth and healing, and reduce inflammation and pain. It has also been used for nerve regeneration for degenerative neurologic conditions or disc disease. This treatment can also be used for arthritis, post-surgical incisions or sites, wounds, and more.
  • Electrocorporeal shockwave: Also known as acoustic compression therapy, sound waves create a mechanical stimulus at the cellular level of the target tissue to stimulate the body’s self healing process, therefore treating pain and injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. This therapy is great for myofascial trigger points, tendon or ligament injuries, arthritis, and even delayed bone healing.
  • Electrostimulation therapy (TENS & NMES): TENS is used for temporary pain relief while NMES is used to stimulate neuromuscular function. Both treatments work by applying small pads connected to electrodes to the area of interest on the pet at specific settings.
  • PEMF (Electromagnetic field therapy): This electromagnetic field is a FDA approved, non-invasive treatment used to treat pain in inflammation. It may be used for a variety or acute or chronic conditions and is a completely pain free treatment. 

Why is physical therapy important?

Following any injury, orthopedic surgery or neurologic event in humans, rehabilitation starts almost immediately to help them regain function and mobility. The same holds true for pets. Our main objectives in physical rehabilitation are to restore function, improve performance, accelerate healing and decrease pain. We also aim to prevent orthopedic and soft-tissue injuries by helping pets gain and maintain fitness.