Pets Use Human Rehab Techniques

Severely injured animals, which in the past have had to live their lives in pain or be euthanized, can receive new help, thanks to the application of rehabilitation techniques used more often on people.

Hydrotherapy, range of motion exercise and ultrasound therapy are all treatments that were developed for people but are now used on patients of the four-legged variety, with much success.

The rehabilitation has helped animals like Finnegan, a dog who was found abandoned in a parking lot two years ago after a car hit him.

When his current owner, Renee Shumway, adopted him, Finnegan couldn't use his legs.

Today the 4-year-old dog is a veteran of two hip surgeries, two knee surgeries and aside from a slight limp, has made a remarkable recovery.


"These animals get the same treatments that people use preoperatively, postoperatively when they have arthritis and other debilitating conditions," said Deirdre Chiaramonte, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center Rehabilitation Service in New York City.

The center is a leader in the growing field dedicated to getting pets back on their feet after illness, injury or surgery.

The result is that dogs like Emmy, who was paralyzed after a surgery to fix a congenital heart defect, can now walk.

The therapies include items such as extra-long treadmills that fit a dog's stride, and deep tissue ultrasound. For patients like the 4-year-old Maltese Jo-Jo, who had a stroke, pets can receive therapy to help them relearn coordination and movement.

But the medical center doesn't discriminate. It also works with more exotic pets, such as Larry the ferret, who had an accident that caused him to lose an eye and break an arm.

"He had a hard time getting around," said Larry's owner, Alissa Aaerhus. "He definitely seemed depressed."

But Larry took swimmingly to the hydrotherapy pool, which has helped to strengthen his limb.

"Now he can keep up. In fact, he's a little faster than one of his brothers," Aaerhus said.

Some pet owners said they really believe the rehabilitation has made a difference in their pet's life.

"It's a miracle. We never expected her to be this good. One of the best things that happened," said Emmy's owner, David Kent. "Before surgery and before the rehab she couldn't wag her tail. Now she's a happy dog."

Information on Pet Rehab

Check out the following links for more information.

the Animal Medical Center Rehabilitation Service

Exercise Tips for Dogs

Exercise Tips for Cats