What is Rehabilitation?

Physical rehabilitation is the treatment of injury or illness to decrease pain and restore function. A rehabilitation veterinarian treats acute injuries soon after they have occurred and chronic injuries or diseases that have been affecting your pet for a long time.

Rest alone after injury usually does not relieve the problems caused by inflammation and spasm; for example, a muscle in spasm cannot get adequate blood supply to heal. The body adapts and protects the injured area long after healing has started. These protective mechanisms alter movement of the whole musculoskeletal system and increase strain on other areas. Rehabilitation should start as soon as possible after injury.

A rehabilitation-trained veterinarian is a muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and bone expert who uses physical medicine to restore maximal function and relieve pain. Only a veterinarian can provide whole body care, prescribe needed medicines and perform a diagnostic evaluation prior to designing a treatment plan. Your pet will benefit from a close team of clinicians with his or her best interests at heart.
When you and your pet first visit a rehabilitation veterinarian, you will undergo an initial consultation. The doctor will take a history asking detailed questions about your pet’s lifestyle and your expectations. Following this, they will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet. The examination will include many measurements. A specific program will then be designed to meet your pet’s needs.


Conditions Treated

Some of these conditions may require surgical treatment in conjunction with rehabilitation.

  • Osteoarthritis – increased mobility, range of motion, decreased inflammation and need for medications
  • Obesity – weight loss programs can be designed for each individual
  • Hip dysplasia – builds supporting muscle mass, increased mobility & comfort
  • Muscle injuries – speeds healing, decreases inflammation, prevents scarring, restores normal functional length
  • Back injuries – increased muscle support to prevent reinjury, manage pain
  • Spinal injury/IVDD – decreased spasticity, pain management, earlier ambulation
  • Spondylosis – manage pain, maintain flexibility and strength
  • Arthrodesis – faster adaptation, support of surrounding joints
  • Joint replacements – faster adaptation, improves coordination & strength
  • Fractures – faster recovery, prevents muscle contracture
  • Cruciate injury – speeds and improves recovery, restores extension, decreases inflammation
  • Amputation – adaptation, builds supporting muscles, management of pain
  • Shoulder OCD – increased mobility, strengthening
  • Elbow dysplasia – increased mobility, decreased inflammation, strengthening
  • Joint dislocation – strengthens supporting muscles & ligaments, prevents reinjury
  • Patellar luxation – strengthening of quadriceps, prevents reinjury
  • Tendon injury – increased range of motion and strength, decreased inflammation and scar tissue
  • Peripheral nerve injury – speeds recovery, functional adaptation, manages pain
  • Neuromuscular disease – strengthening, adaptation, pain management
  • Fibrocartilagenous embolism (FCE) – can hasten recovery, improve coordination
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM) – helps to maintain muscle function and prolong life
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome – manages pain, maintains strength and function
  • Vestibular disorders – improves balance and coordination, decreases injury

This is not a complete list, please contact us at NCVRC for more information.