Rehabilitation for Animals
Veterinary Sports Medicine and rehabilitation (VSMR) is a specialty branch of veterinary medicine that aims to improve healing, minimize pain, build muscle, increase athleticism, and improve overall well-being. Many people can relate to having physical therapy after a surgery, and similar approaches help expedite recovery in veterinary patients after surgery, injury, or trauma. The modalities used include low-level laser therapy (LLLT), therapeutic ultrasound, acupuncture, transcutaneous electronic neuromuscular stimulation (TENS), neuromuscular electronic stimulation (NMES or "E-stim"), shockwave therapy, underwater treadmill, manual therapies and directed exercises. In addition, physical medicine and rehabilitation can assist patients with weight loss, stamina, and increased strength and vitality.
The Physical Rehabilitation Service, opened in 2004, serves patients of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital as well as dogs and cats in areas throughout Northern California and neighboring states. This specialty service treats hospitalized patients -- often to assist animals when recovering from surgery, in addition to outpatients and day cases. Specialties that refer patients to the Physical Rehabilitation service include: Orthopedic Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Medicine, Oncology, Intensive Care, Community Practice, and Companion Avian & Exotic Pets.
This burgeoning specialty of veterinary medicine requires the careful, educated eye of a skilled veterinarian who has been specifically trained and certified in physical rehabilitation. Dr. Lauren Frank earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, in 2009. She received her Certification of Veterinary Acupuncture from the Chi Institute in 2009. After completing a clinical internship in Physical Rehabilitation and Acupuncture at the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida, she achieved certification as a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in Coral Springs, Florida.
Dr. Frank provides physical rehabilitation services, including consultations, evaluations and treatment, at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. She completes a functional evaluation and designs a plan of care to restore, maintain, or enhance an individual's physical fitness and optimize function after injury, surgery, or disability. During the initial visit, an evaluation will be completed and goals for the patient will be addressed and identified. Based on these goals, the circumstances, and the individual, a treatment plan will be established for the patient. Time permitting, some treatment may be started with the initial evaluation.
This dynamic process is modified with progress, subsequent injury, or other factors that arise. Clients are an important part of the rehabilitation process and recovery. Treatment frequency and duration varies depending on the individual patient, the cause of disability, and limitations of the caretaker. As with people, physical fitness and activity are important for animals throughout their life spans.
Many different types of patients benefit from physical rehabilitation and therapy, including the dog recovering from a cranial cruciate ligament tear, the overweight pet, and the older animal that is becoming weak and having trouble rising. Other examples include rehabilitation after an animal has been in a trauma, such as hit by a car, or in some cases, in animals that are born deformed. Physical rehabilitation therapy can also benefit animals as a preconditioning for surgery, as a preventive to help protect and minimize laxity in joints, or for conditioning for athletic events (agility, Schutzhund, etc) or work.