Monday, December 22, 2008

Rehabilitation Swimming

Hydrotherapy is considered to be one of the most effective methods in animal rehabilitation. It provides full body exercise against resistance. The animal exercises all the same muscles as when working on land, but due to the buoyancy of the water, the movements may be done in the full range of motion with no pain and resistance. It is estimated that every stroke an animal does in the water is equivalent to 4 strokes on land.

It is a condition of the hydro that no animal may be forcibly coerced into entering either of the pools. We take our time tempting them in with treats and at no time will we place undue stress on your pet.

Swimming Programs
Rehabilitation swimming programs are developed for each individual dog based on the condition being treated. Centre staff will work with the dog in the water to stimulate the swimming process and maintain their confidence.The average rehabilitation requires about 15 swimming sessions, with each session lasting up to 30 minutes. Owners are encouraged to participate in the rehabilitation by swimming their dog with the guidance of Centre staff.
Just as swimming and other forms of hydrotherapy are universally recognized by the medical community in the treatment of humans, the same principles and therapeutic values can be applied to dogs.

By placing the dog in the weightless environment that water or swimming provides, injuries or conditions can be better treated without the pain or restricted movement associated with regular ground-based exercise programs.Swimming for dogs can be applied to a wide range of conditions, such as:

Hip dysplasia: Swimming for dogs with hip dysplasia provides an alternative form of exercise from the painful effects of ground exercise programs. Swimming provides the opportunity for a high-level workout that builds and maintains the muscle tone and strength to help avoid further deterioration of the hip joint. Swimming can be used both pre- and post-surgery in hip replacement to provide increased circulation, build up muscle and provide a firm base for recovery.

Ligament Repair: Swimming following surgery to repair torn ligaments (cruciates) provides a non-weight-bearing exercise to strengthen the repair, helping to restore natural limb movement. Swimming rebuilds lost muscle tone, provides increased circulation, and builds the dog's confidence to return to normal activities.

Spinal disk/nerve damage: Swimming, following surgery, stabilization or repair of the disk can increase the speed of recovery, providing increased circulation (oxygen) to the limbs and to the damaged area. Where paralysis is evident, swimming will promote movement of the limbs and increased nerve synapse and regeneration.

Arthritis: The non-weight-bearing environment of swimming provides the dog with a pain-free exercise routine. The full range of motion obtainable in the weightlessness of water allows joints to move more freely and muscles to stretch and become more flexible than being constrained in the limited motion provided by painful ground exercises.

Paralysis: The benefits of swimming in paralysis depends on the cause of the paralysis, the extent of nerve damage and the time elapsed since paralysis occurred. The earlier swimming can be started, the better prognosis for return of nerve function and limb movement.

Muscle atrophy: Muscle atrophy occurs when the limb is inactive or immobilized. Swimming can start re-building muscle mass in as little as three or four sessions. The full range of motion of the swimming stroke allows tight, contracted muscles, tendons and ligaments to stretch out and become supple and flexible once again. We are currently treating a chihuahua called Tiny for post-operative paralysis. Tiny sustained serious spinal injury when abused by his previous owner and was paralysed in his hind quarters. After two treatments with Photizo light therapy and swimming, Tiny has regained some movement in his hind legs. We expect a major improvement over the coming weeks (pictures coming soon).

Weight reduction: Swimming in conjunction with a proper diet will help remove those excess pounds, tone up the muscles and cardiovascular system and give you a healthier and happier dog.

Post surgery: Swimming, before or following surgical procedures, can speed recovery in many cases and avoid or minimize some of the complications that can develop such as:
· Restricted movement or use following joint surgery, i.e. Cruciate ligament repair/replacement, OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans), hip replacement etc.
· Adhesions (scarring)
· Muscle loss (atrophy)
· Arthritis

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