Movement is the most powerful painkiller we have, also for animals. Movement therapy is the most effective way of rehabilitation and is considered the most evident treatment by anatomists, biomechanics and physiologists. The increasingly popular ‘quick fix’ often show transient results and possibly even worsening of the condition on long term. Good training is important and takes time and effort.
Movement is considered ‘normal’ differently for each individual animal, so a custom program will be set up for every dog. Taken into account are breed, age, nature of the condition and owner compliance. In dogs, like most other mammals, the main movement is forward. To get a dog back on all fours, we apply the three principles of movement therapy:
- Motor control
When functional movement is regained, a more specific training can be started. In some cases, normal movement can’t be achieved and the treatment will be adapted to the dog’s specific needs.
Occasionally, pain is predominant and the main reason that inhibits the animal to move correctly. For these cases, electrical stimulation is use to overrule the pain signal (TENS). This method is harmless and when applied efficiently, contributes to the outcomes of therapy.
Electro-stimulation is also used for activating the neuromuscular system, for example with neurological problems (like partial paralysis and spinal conditions). For chronic patients, it can also help to relieve pain temporarily. Read more
PASSIVE RANGE OF MOTION AND STRETCHING
Valuable to movement therapy, passive movement is also used as a treatment modality. Joint movement is administered by the therapist, rather than eliciting active muscle contractions in the patient.
In physiotherapy, sports medicine and rehabilitative therapy, massage has been an integral component for treatment of humans. Manual stimulation induces blood flow and oxygen supply in the affected region, supporting the removal of metabolic waste from the muscles. Pain leads to muscle tension, evidently leading to more pain. Attempting to stop this vicious cycle is one of the main indicators for massage therapy.
ATHLETIC/ WORK DOGS
Not only disabled dogs might need physical therapy. Athletic dogs and certain working dogs can be trained directionally, to prevent injuries and/or to enhance their their achievements.
The physical requirements for athletic dogs are stamina, strength, speed, coordination and agility. All can be trained specifically or combined at Animal Rehabilitation Crete, possibly paired with a dietary plan.
Getting ahead, Animal Rehabilitation Crete will hopefully acquire an underwater treadmill. The alleviating properties of water are very valuable in physical medicine and rehabilitation and will accelerate the rehabilitation. Until then, we work in the Aegean sea.