Our Treatments

Canine Rehabilitation Techniques and Therapies

Canine Physical Rehabilitation is an important component of the treatment for many musculoskeletal (muscle, bone, joints, soft tissues) and neurological conditions seen in dogs. Rehabilitation utilizes the skill of the therapist to apply canine physical rehabilitation techniques and clinical reasoning to manage pain and restore movement. In Louisiana, canine rehabilitation therapy must be overseen by a veterinarian to ensure that the correct and safe treatments are administered appropriately to ensure rehabilitation goals are met.

 

Physical Rehabilitation can commence as soon as possible after any injury, surgery or diagnosis of musculoskeletal or neurological conditions from your vet. Many gentle manual techniques and modalities can be used to help reduce pain, swelling and stiffness, slow the muscle atrophy and cartilage degeneration and stimulate healing. We ensure treatments are specific and gentle so as not to risk compromised damaged and/or healing tissues.

The treatment program will generally include manual therapy and modalities to modulate healing and pain such as laserelectrical stimulationpulsed electro magnetic field therapy, ultrasound, thermal therapy  and therapeutic exercises; all individually selected for the individual patient.

MANUAL
THERAPY

Manual therapy involves a variety of techniques such as joint mobilizations, soft tissue massage and stretching used for both evaluating and treating patients. Specialized manual skills are used to assess soft tissue abnormalities, muscles tightness, joint arthrokinematic restrictions and range of motion.

PEMF
THERAPY

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) is a process that involves generating and directing pulsed energy waves towards damaged and injured areas. Restoring the cell membrane potential will help stimulate healing of  tissue repair and pain relief.

THERAPEUTIC
EXERCISE

A tailored therapeutic exercise program is designed by the Well Paws K9 CCRT to be muscle specific and comprehensive to ensure it meets your dog’s individual needs. It is a vital element of rehabilitation.

LASER

Laser therapy is the non-invasive use of laser energy to generate a photochemical response in damaged or dysfunctional tissue. Laser therapy can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery from a wide range of acute and chronic clinical conditions. 

ELECTRICAL
STIMULATION

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS) involves the use of electrical stimulation to both strengthen muscles and for pain relief.

THERAPEUTIC
 
ULTRASOUND

Therapeutic ultrasound is a common tool used in human physical therapy clinics to create a deep heat within tissues, increase the rate of healing, decrease pain, and decrease inflammation (when used in a pulsed mode).

THERMAL
THERAPY

Thermal therapy is the application of hot or cold elements to the body for the relief of pain and control of inflammation and swelling.

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Manual Therapy

Manual therapy involves a variety of techniques such as joint mobilizations, soft tissue massage and stretching used for both evaluating and treating patients. Specialized manual skills are used to assess soft tissue abnormalities, muscles tightness, joint arthrokinematic restrictions and range of motion.

 

Therapeutic soft tissue massage is used to treat muscle tension and tightness which occur secondary to joint and neurological diseases.

 

It includes a variety of techniques:

 

Effleurage is a soothing technique for relaxation and to reduce swelling.

 

Petrissage applies moderate to deep pressure to improve circulation and tissue extensibility.

 

Tapotement is a stimulatory technique to increase blood flow and oxygen to an area or to stimulate a weak muscle.

 

Cross-friction is used to break down adhesions to accelerate muscle healing.

 

Trigger point release or ischemic techniques eliminate tender areas and decrease spasm.

Manual Therapy helps to stimulate endorphins which help to manage pain and decrease anxiety.  We often use soft tissue massage along with thermal therapy to relax the patient and warm the muscles to enhance the effect of any stretching, range of motion or exercises to ensure the patients gain the most from other forms of therapy we incorporate.

Dog recieving hands-on PT
Golden retriever receiving joint range of motion PT
 

Therapeutic Exercise

A tailored therapeutic exercise program is designed by the Well Paws K9 CCRT to be muscle specific and comprehensive to ensure it meets your individual dog’s needs. It is a vital element of rehabilitation.

 

Exercises are designed specifically for each patient. Important factors to be considered include age, the type of tissues involved, any surgical procedure, stage of tissue repair and the functional ability of the patient.

Some general types of exercises we include are:

 

Passive range of motion (PROM) improves cartilage nutrient availability, cartilage production and increases joint range

Stretching allows functional movement by improving muscle and tendon flexibility

Proprioceptive exercises help the patient to gather information about their feet placement

Balance exercises build core strength to support mobility

Strengthening exercises are used to strengthen specific muscle groups

Endurance training improves total body fitness

 

Various pieces of equipment such as balance pads, Fitpaws peanut balls, bosu trainer, cavelettis, cones, yoga blocks and mats, may be used at different stages of the therapeutic exercise program to help reach the patients goals of full recovery. 

Many of the exercises are designed to be continued at home to encourage you to be actively involved in your pet’s rehabilitation and help him/her to recover faster.

 

Laser Therapy

Dog wearing sunglasses receiving laser therapy

Laser therapy is a painless, non-invasive and proven method to relax muscles and releases endorphins to help decrease pain and inflammation. It's very comfortable for the patient.  

 

Therapeutic laser, also known as 'photobiomodulation' uses invisible infrared light energy (photons) to penetrate deep into tissues and enhance the body’s natural healing.The cells convert light energy to biochemical energy by stimulating various chromophores (eg hemoglobin, melanin, Cytochrome C) and stimulation encourages the production of cell energy (ATP), which powers the cell functions and biochemical processes. The effects are improved blood flow, modulation of inflammation, enhanced cell regeneration and promotion of tissue healing.

Well Paws K9 Rehabilitation uses the Companion Laser which allows the use of two wavelengths of invisible infrared light energy (905 and 808nm) delivered in combination. This synergy provides superior pain management and healing potential without any risk of heating the tissues. In contrast, less powerful lasers take much longer to deliver the dosages required to benefit the tissues — this is sometimes referred to as low level laser therapy.

Laser therapy can be used to help rehabilitate patients with musculoskeletal pain, tissue swelling, inflammation, muscular strains and sprains, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, neurological conditions, to enhance skin wound healing. It can be a very important adjunct post surgical to enhance tissue healing.

Watch a video explaining Companion Laser Therapy

Clinical Applications

Laser therapy can effectively reduce pain and inflammation associated with a variety of acute and chronic conditions, including:

Clinical applications that laser treats shown on a dog
 

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF)

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) is generated by running an electrical current through a coiled wire to generate low level electrical fields in the body to aid in tissue repair, pain relief and relaxation.

 

PEMF stimulates biological processes and has been shown to have a positive effect on bone and cartilage in pets. It has been used for many conditions but its main uses in small animals are pain management and enhancement of bone, cartilage and tissue healing.  As such, a common application is pain reduction and improvement in cartilage quality of patients with osteoarthritis.  Other indications include: fracture healing, muscle spasm or pain, inflammation, swelling, wound healing and neurological conditions.

PEMF can be administered through portable home units such as Assisi loop. These easy-to-use devices allow pet owners to provide effective inflammation and pain management in the comfort of home or on the go.

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Electrical Stimulation - NMES & TENS

Dog legs with TENS unit on

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS) involves the use of electrical stimulation to both strengthen muscles and for pain relief.

 

This non-painful and non-invasive therapeutic technique is performed by placing electrode pads against the patient’s skin or coat with a conductivity gel to deliver a low level electrical current.

At higher frequencies, NMES is used to stimulate motor nerve fibers of weak muscles which results in muscle contraction to help in the strengthening of the muscle. NMES is most often used in patients that are too weak to move certain muscle groups — muscles that have atrophied due to disuse after injury or from neurological disease.

At lower frequencies, TENS stimulates sensory nerve fibers which block the signal of pain, resulting in pain relief. TENS can be used alongside prescribed medication to provide pain relief to pets with acute or chronic pain conditions.

More information about how TENS works can be found here

 

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Dog getting ultrasond on back leg

Therapeutic ultrasound is a common tool used in human physical therapy clinics to create a deep heat within tissues, increase the rate of healing, decrease pain, and decrease inflammation (when used in a pulsed mode). Therapeutic ultrasound is not to be confused with diagnostic ultrasound. While both utilize sound waves, therapeutic ultrasound emits a different wavelength of sound compared to diagnostic ultrasound and does not produce any images of the inside of the body.

 

Therapeutic ultrasound works by two mechanisms: thermal effects and non-thermal effects.

 

Thermal Effects: Therapeutic ultrasound creates a deep heat within tissues. This is highly effective for improving the flexibility of tissues and is often used to treat muscle spasms and contractures. Ultrasound is also very effective for preparing tissues prior to manual therapy techniques. These thermal effects occur deep within the tissues and typically the patient experiences a comfortable warming sensation.

 

Non-Thermal Effects: Therapeutic ultrasound also works by a process referred to as “cavitation”. Cavitation is the creation of microscopic gas bubbles that are rapidly expanding and contracting within tissues. Cavitation is effective for speeding cellular processes, facilitating healing, and increasing blood flow.

Conditions that therapeutic ultrasound has been shown to be effective in treating:

 

Muscle contractures

Scar tissue formation

Muscle/trigger point dysfunction

Tendon and ligament injuries

Fractures

Pain

Effects of Ultrasound:

 

Breaks down scar tissue

Improves tissue extensibility

Improves circulation

Decreases pain

Creates a deep heat to relieve muscle spasms and pain

Increases healing rates

 

Cyrotherapy & Heat Therapy

(Thermal Therapy)

Thermal therapy is the application of hot or cold elements to the body for the relief of pain and control of inflammation and swelling.

 

Cryotherapy or cold therapy is ideal for the acute phase of injury (first 72 hours) and immediately post-operative (after surgery) to reduce pain and swelling.  Cryotherapy works by vasoconstriction of the blood vessels (decrease blood flow) which slows bleeding, reduces the inflammatory response and provides analgesia (pain relief).

Heat therapy, in contrast to cold therapy, should not be used on tissues already inflamed, or it may worsen the inflammation, swelling and pain.  The increased tissue temperature causes vasodilation (increase blood flow) which speeds up activity in cells and also assists in removal of toxic waste from the tissue.  Soft tissue becomes more flexible with heat and this helps in muscle relaxation and reduces joint stiffness.  This allows stretching of the muscles to be performed more effectively and comfortably.  Heat is useful in chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, where it can provide pain relief.

Dog gtting ice massge on front leg