Physical rehabilitation for your pets can have the same amazing benefits as physical therapy for humans. At Purdue we utilize a variety of manual exercises and modalities to attain better range of motion in joints and increase muscle strength and endurance. Rehabilitation and alternative therapies can also be used to help with pet pain relief.
Our end goal is to improve function and performance and increase the overall quality of life for our patients.
Physical Rehabilitation is commonly recommended for:
Post-operative and medically managed orthopedic patients
Post-operative and medically managed neurologic patients
Patients suffering from a variety of soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains
Mental stimulation and mobility improvement and maintenance in geriatric patients
Improvement and maintenance of endurance and strength in active dogs, including agility and working dogs
Adjunctive pain relief
Our veterinary rehabilitation team treats a wide variety of conditions in small animals. Here are some of the most common:
Orthopedic Conditions: These include but are not limited to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament tears, patellar luxation, and fractures. Rehabilitation can help restore mobility and strength and reduce pain.
Neurological Disorders: Animals with conditions such as intervertebral disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, fibrocartilaginous embolism, and other types of nerve injuries or diseases can benefit from rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can help restore function, improve mobility, and slow disease progression.
Post-Surgical Recovery: Animals recovering from surgeries, especially orthopedic or neurologic surgeries, often benefit from rehabilitation. It helps these patients regain strength and mobility, with the goal of improving the healing process.
Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease: These conditions can cause chronic pain and reduced mobility in animals. Physical rehabilitation can help manage pain, slow the progression of the disease, and improve overall quality of life.
Obesity: Overweight and obese animals can benefit from physical rehabilitation as part of a weight loss program. Exercise under the guidance of a rehabilitation professional can help pets lose weight, reducing the risk of many health conditions.
Chronic Pain: Physical rehabilitation can be used as an adjunctive therapy to combat chronic pain, whether due to arthritis, cancer, or other conditions.
Performance enhancement: In working animals or those involved in competitive activities like agility, physical rehabilitation can help enhance performance, improve fitness, and lessen the likelihood of injuries.
Each animal is unique, and the best treatment options will depend on the individual animal's condition, overall health, age, and other factors. Schedule an appointment with us to receive personalized guidance from a professional who is trained in this field.
Our veterinary physical rehabilitation team utilizes a wide variety of treatments, many of which are similar to those used in human physical therapy. These can include:
Therapeutic Exercise: This can range from basic exercises like walking to more targeted exercises to strengthen specific muscles or improve balance and coordination. These exercises can be performed with or without the use of special equipment such as balance balls, cavaletti poles, and treadmills.
Hydrotherapy: This involves the use of water for therapy, often in a therapy pool or an underwater treadmill. Hydrotherapy can help reduce the weight-bearing load on joints, making it easier for animals to exercise and build strength without excessive stress on their joints. It's particularly useful for animals with arthritis or those recovering from orthopedic or neurologic surgery.
Therapeutic Massage: Massage can help to reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, alleviate pain, and enhance flexibility. It can be particularly beneficial for animals with muscle tightness or those recovering from an injury.
Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises: These are exercises where the therapist manually moves the animal's joints to help maintain or improve joint mobility. This is often used for animals who are unable to move a limb on their own due to injury, surgery, or a neurological condition.
Electrotherapy: Treatments such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) can be used to reduce pain, promote healing, and stimulate muscle contractions.
Laser Therapy: Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also referred to as photobiomodulation, can be used to reduce inflammation and pain and promote tissue healing.
Heat and Cold Therapy: Heat can be used to increase blood flow and relax muscles, while cold can reduce inflammation and pain.
Therapeutic Ultrasound: This uses sound waves to promote tissue healing, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain.
Pulse Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy: This technology uses electromagnetic fields to upregulate cellular messengers to reduce inflammation, promote healing and pain relief.
Acupuncture: It can be used for pain relief, to promote healing, and promote mental stimulation.
These treatments can be used alone or in combination, depending on the animal's individual needs. Schedule an appointment with us to received a veterinary rehabilitation plan tailored to the pet's individual needs, considering factors such as the animal's ailment, age, and overall health.
Veterinary rehabilitation incorporates a range of specialized equipment and technologies to facilitate treatment and promote recovery. Here are some examples:
Hydrotherapy Equipment: Underwater treadmills and therapeutic pools allow for low-impact exercise which can be easier on an animal's joints and are particularly beneficial for those recovering from surgery or suffering from arthritis.
Exercise Equipment: This can include balance boards, inflatable discs, physio balls, ramps, cavaletti poles (adjustable hurdles for stepping over) and treadmills. These are used to improve balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.
Laser Therapy Devices: Class III and IV therapeutic lasers are used for photobiomodulation, reducing pain, reducing inflammation, and promoting healing.
Electrotherapy Equipment: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) machines are used for pain relief and reducing muscle atrophy, respectively.
Therapeutic Ultrasound Machines: Sound waves are utilized to promote tissue healing and are beneficial in treating a range of conditions including tendon injuries.
Mobility Assistance Devices: These can include wheelchairs, lifts, harnesses, slings, and other aids to assist with movement. Additionally, custom orthotics (braces) and prosthetics can be used for animals with limb abnormalities or amputations.
Pulse Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy: This technology is used to reduce inflammation, promote healing and pain relief for a variety of medical conditions.
Gait Analysis Technology: Gait analysis systems can measure and analyze an animal's movement patterns. This can be particularly useful in diagnosing conditions, tracking progress, and adjusting treatment plans.
Acupuncture (dry-needling and electroacupuncture): Acupuncture, both dry needles and also electroacupuncture are used to stimulate specific points on the body to relieve pain, improve blood circulation, and promote healing.
It's important to note that while many of these technologies can greatly aid in recovery, they should be utilized under the guidance of a trained veterinary rehabilitation professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Here are some common questions about small animal physical rehabilitation along with their answers:
How long does a rehabilitation session typically last? A typical session can last from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the specific needs of the animal.
How often does my pet need to attend rehabilitation sessions? The frequency of sessions will depend on your pet’s specific diagnosis or condition being treated. Some animals may benefit from several sessions per week initially, while others might only need to attend weekly or even monthly sessions. Your veterinary rehabilitation specialist will tailor a program to meet your pet's individual needs.
Will the therapy cause my pet pain? The goal of physical rehabilitation is to decrease pain and increase function. While some discomfort may be experienced, especially in the beginning of therapy or when treating specific conditions, the overall aim is to improve your pet’s overall comfort and function.
How long will it take to see improvements in my pet? Each animal is unique, and the time to see improvement can vary widely depending on the nature of the condition being treated, the age and overall health of your pet, and how consistently the at home rehabilitation program is followed. Some animals may show improvement within a few sessions, while others may require several weeks or months of consistent therapy.
Can I do exercises with my pet at home? Yes, home exercises are often a crucial part of the rehabilitation process. Your rehabilitation specialist will likely provide instructions on specific exercises to do at home to supplement the in-clinic treatments.
At-home care is an important part of the rehabilitation process for your pet. Here are a few general tips to help you provide the best at-home care possible, but remember, always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary rehabilitation specialist before starting any new exercise or treatment at home:
Follow the Prescribed Exercise Program: Your vet or rehab specialist will likely provide a set of exercises to do at home. Make sure to follow their instructions closely, as doing too much or too little can hinder your pet's progress.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts added stress on your pet's joints and can slow the recovery process. If your pet is overweight, talk to your vet about a diet and exercise plan.
Provide a Safe Environment: Make sure your pet's living area is safe and comfortable. This might mean providing ramps or steps to help them get on and off furniture, placing rugs or mats on slippery floors, or restricting access to stairs.
Use Heat and Cold Appropriately: With your vet's guidance, you might use heat or cold to help manage your pet's pain. Generally, heat can help relax muscles and improve flexibility, while cold can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Massage: Gentle massage can be beneficial for many pets. It can help relax muscles, improve circulation, and reduce pain. Always ask your vet or rehab specialist for guidance before starting massage at home.
Monitor Your Pet's Condition: Pay close attention to your pet's behavior and physical condition. If you notice any changes in their mood, appetite, bathroom habits, or level of pain, contact your vet right away.
Patience is Key: Rehabilitation can be a slow process, and it's important to be patient. Don't push your pet to do more than they are capable of, and always provide lots of positive reinforcement.
Consistent Follow-ups: Regular follow-up visits with your vet or rehab specialist are important. They can assess your pet's progress, adjust the treatment plan as necessary, and address any questions or concerns you might have.
Your vet or a rehabilitation specialist is the best source of advice for at-home care specific to your pet's condition. Schedule an appointment with us to consult with our team before starting any new treatment or exercise at home.
Entrance B - David & Bonnie Brunner Small Animal Lobby
625 Harrison St
West Lafayette, IN 47907 Directions
Your First Visit
Meet with Purdue’s rehabilitation staff. At this visit our nursing and doctor team will meet with you and your pet and design an at home and out-patient rehabilitation plan specifically designed for your pet.
Establish a plan. After to agreeing to a rehabilitation plan, we will perform a rehabilitation assessment and exam. We will often make objective measurements including gait lab analysis and limb range of motion measurements and limb girth assessments.
Treatment. Further in-hospital therapies and at-home treatment plans will be discussed. At home exercises will be demonstrated for you. Future visits with the rehab service can be drop off appointments or scheduled hour appointments made at designated times throughout the day.
Feedback. After in-hospital sessions we will talk with you about how your pet is doing, goals for the next session, and what you can do at home to help with your pet’s rehabilitation.
Intake Form. Save time and complete our Client Form (PDF) prior to arriving for your first appointment.