Veterinary Physical Rehabilitation Services

Dayle Parnell-Lampen, DVM, CCRP and our caring team at Westford Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center offers Physical Rehabilitation services such as hydrotherapy and other exercises that are individually customized for pets suffering from orthopedic, neurologic, and chronic diseases. Appointments are available Tuesday-Friday in our newly expanded space located at 11 Cornerstone Square, Suite 300. Call (978) 850-4262 to schedule an appointment to help relieve your pet's pain and improve function.

Physical Rehabilitation

Exercises

The goal of physical rehabilitation is to restore or improve functions of muscles and joints to improve quality of life in our patients.

A practitioner with a CCRP (“Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) or CCRT (“Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist) has undergone additional training in the field of canine rehabilitation. Although there are no feline rehabilitation certifications, CCRPs and CCRTs often treat cats as well. We welcome both canine and feline patients at WVERC! Referring veterinarians please complete the referral form.

Examples of patients that can benefit from physical rehabilitation include:

  • Post-surgical
  • Patients with neurologic conditions including IVDD, degenerative diseases, injuries
  • Patients with orthopedic conditions including CCL injuries, muscle/tendon injuries, post trauma, congenital/developmental conditions
  • Patients with osteoarthritis
  • Otherwise healthy but overweight patients
  • Canine athletes who could benefit from fitness and conditioning activities

What to Expect

When you make an appointment with the physical rehabilitation, you will be scheduled for an initial consult. At this visit, a physical evaluation, with detailed orthopedic and neurologic examination, will be performed to identify any problem areas. Often measurements of muscle mass and joint range of motion are taken during this visit. After the evaluation, a customized plan will be formulated for your pet’s specific needs. This is often a combination of the services listed below:

Hydrotherapy

The underwater treadmill is a great tool for many rehabilitation patients with both neurologic and orthopedic ailments. The buoyancy of the water supports the weight of the patient, taking strain off painful or weak areas.

Benefits of underwater treadmill include:

  • Gait patterning/re-training
  • Improves proprioception
  • Exercise with reduced pain
  • Improves muscle strength
  • Warm water soothes muscles and aids in improving joint range of motion
  • Cardiovascular workout

In addition, it can be a helpful tool for weight loss as well as conditioning of the canine athlete.

Water Treadmill - dogWater Treadmill - catAqua Paws Water Treadmill

Therapeutic Exercises

Therapeutic exercises are a cornerstone of physical rehabilitation. These exercises can be used to strengthen muscles, improve balance and proprioception, and improve range of motion.

We will create an exercise program geared specifically for your pet using our wide range of Fitpaws and other equipment in the hospital. In addition, a home exercise program will be designed with detailed instructions and videos for exercises that can be done at home. Helpful videos and photos of the home exercises are provided through Canine Exercise Solutions.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a hands on treatment approach where specific hand movements are used on muscle and joints. This includes massage and mobilization of the joints and is used to decrease pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, and improve joint range of motion.

Laser Therapy (Photobiomodulation)Laser Therapy

Therapeutic laser therapy uses light of a specific wavelength to stimulate intracellular changes that can produce a variety of beneficial effects. Laser therapy is painless (many patients even find it relaxing) and can be applied to wide range of neurologic and orthopedic conditions seen in our physical rehabilitation patients.

Benefits of laser include:

  • Reduction in edema/swelling
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Reduction in fibrous tissue/scar formation
  • Accelerated healing

Cutting Edge Laser Technologies - For Pet Owners

Custom Orthotic, Prosthetic, and Assistive Devices

Sometimes pets need additional support to improve their mobility. These devices can include:

  • Slings and harnesses
  • Wheelchairs
  • Braces
  • Paw protection/boots
  • Proprioceptive aids
  • Custom orthotics (designed to provide support to a weak limb or joint) or Prosthetics (replace a portion of a missing limb)

We can help give recommendations for mobility devices and help with fitting and training to the devices. If a custom device is recommended, we work with reputable companies to have one specifically designed and manufactured to fit your pet’s specific needs.