Posts Tagged ‘hydrotherapy for dogs’

Rehab Therapy: An Opportunity to Practice Patience

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I am not known for my patience.  In fact, when I was a kid, my father used to joke that when the good Lord passed out patience, I didn’t bother to wait in line.

But I’ve learned a few things since opening Scout’s House and one of them is that you have to have patience with rehab therapy.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

As many readers of this blog know, I started Scout’s House because I saw what an incredible difference it made in the life of my own dog.  But when I started rehab with Scout, I had no expectations that it would help her.  To be honest, she was such a neurological mess, I didn’t think anything could fix her.  But rehab did.  Not overnight but over months, slowly and steadily.  And I’m so glad I was patient enough to give it time to work.

So if there’s one bit of advice I’d give to anyone considering rehab therapy for her or his pet, it’s this:  have patience. Too many people come to Scout’s House expecting overnight miracles, but that’s not how rehab therapy—or physical therapy for humans—works.  It takes time to regain lost muscle strength, particularly when a leg hasn’t been used for a month or two.  And it takes even more time to retrain a brain to move limbs properly again after, say, a disk rupture or an FCE.

We often tell our new clients to start by bringing their pets in twice a week for two to three weeks and by then they should see at least a little improvement.  And we say twice a week because often the more therapy a pet gets each week, the more quickly you’ll see gains.  It’s just like going to the gym:  go once a week and you won’t see much change over the course of several weeks.  But go twice a week—or even three times a week—and you’ll improve far more rapidly.

So, if you’re headed to rehab with your pet, have patience and give it time to work.  I can’t promise it will–rehab doesn’t help every animal just as physical therapy doesn’t help every human–but if you commit to at least twice a week for two or three weeks, you’ll know if rehab is right for your pet.  And you’ll have the peace of mind, knowing you tried.

“Exercise is Medicine”

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a great article in it about the physical dangers inherent in many of the winter sports at the Olympics.  What I particularly loved about the story was a comment by Jim Cerullo, the head trainer for the the U. S. luge team, about how much more quickly athletes recover these days from their injuries.  Cerullo credited these improved recovery times to advances in arthroscopic surgery (which is being used in veterinary medicine now, too) and to–and I quote the article here–an “approach to rehabilitation that encourages exercise and movement (almost immediately in the case of world class athletes) over rest.”  Cerullo explains that if an athlete injured a knee 20 or 30 years ago, he or she would have ended up in a brace for a month, but today those athletes get into rehab almost immediately.  “Tear an ACL,” the article says [and, I should say, that’s analagous to a dog tearing a CCL], “and the staff at The Center for Excellence will have you working out in the hydrotherapy pool within days of the operation.”  Mr. Cerullo summed it up beautifully:  “We have a saying now ‘exercise is medicine.'”

Thank you, Mr. Cerullo!  That is exactly the message we’ve been sharing with our clients at Scout’s House for almost five years now–a message that’s overshadowed by the fact that veterinary medicine is about 10 or 15 years behind the advances in human medicine (although quickly catching up).  Don’t put your dog in a crate for 8 weeks after a TPLO surgery if you have a certified canine rehabilitation therapist nearby.  Get your dog into rehab and you’ll give him the best chance of recovering more quickly and more completely from his injury.  And yes, he may not be an Olympic athlete, but he can definitely benefit from what we’ve learned from them.