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.