Walking in warm water provides buoyancy and relieves pressure on weak muscles and painful joints while still letting the patient exercise in an upright position. Our trained therapists utilize the underwater treadmill to reduce the effects of gravity to encourage patients to regain range of motion, strength and body control.
What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy utilizes the properties of water, such as buoyancy and resistance to improve weight bearing and strength. The underwater treadmill offers a controlled, safe, yet challenging environment that provides an optimal setting for cardiovascular conditioning and physical rehabilitation for dogs and some cats.
What conditions are commonly treated with hydrotherapy?
Patients that benefit from hydrotherapy include those in the following categories: pre-operative, post-operative, chronic conditions and conditioning. Pre-operative rehabilitation, or pre-hab, is appropriate for animals with significant pre-existing muscle atrophy and pain, or some overweight patients that would do poorly with surgery immediately. The goal is to make them a better candidate for surgery and improve their outcome. Some of the most common post-operative conditions are total hip replacements, intervertebral disk disease, knee surgeries (including ACL repairs and patella luxation repairs) and femoral head and neck excision (FHNE or FHO). Muscle weakness or proprioceptive deficits from neurologic conditions, hip dysplasia and arthritis are types of chronic conditions that are often treated with hydrotherapy. In the conditioning category, hydrotherapy is a great option for treating obesity, maintaining a high level of fitness for agility competitors or just keeping your dog active year round.
How can my pet benefit from hydrotherapy?
While in the water the patient feels more buoyant and lighter and this has the effect of decreased weight bearing on painful or problem areas.
Animals with weak muscles, stiff/swollen joints or poor range of motion are more comfortable in the water. The buoyancy and warm temperature of the water increase flexibility, improve circulation and ease pain. Patients often show improved temperament and increased willingness to exercise.
For the more athletic patient, regular exercise can also help prevent future injuries and improve cardiovascular fitness.
When and how often should my pet do hydrotherapy?
Patients must first be evaluated by our therapists to make sure they are good candidates for the underwater treadmill. For example, patients who have heart conditions, respiratory conditions, or who are too weak may not be able to tolerate water therapy. Also for some post-operative patients, therapy may need to be delayed for at least 6 weeks to allow adequate rest time for soft tissues to heal. Ideally, once to twice weekly sessions are recommended to gain the most benefit from hydrotherapy for the majority of conditions. The length of time in the treadmill is also determined by the status of the patient, and can range from 5 minutes to 25 minutes in the water.
“The Rollins Center offers animals the same state of the art rehabilitation services that I use in my career as a professional athlete. Our services can assist patients with post-surgical recovery; prevention of further injury; recovery and healing of muscle strains, ligament ruptures, joint sprains and bone fractures; assuaging of patient anxiety or stress; reduction of muscle tightness or spasm; management of chronic conditions including arthritis and degenerative disease; promotion of flexibility and range of motion; weight management; and other beneficial therapies.” -Jimmy Rollins, All Star shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies