Q: Do pets ever need physical therapy?

A: The term “physical therapy” is generally restricted to use by physical therapist who are trained on people. In veterinary medicine, we generally use the terms “physical rehabilitation” or “rehabilitation therapy.” The disciplines are certainly very similar. Rehabilitation therapy can help pets recover from an injury or surgery. It is also useful for managing chronic problems like arthritis or neurologic conditions.

Depending on the condition, a therapist may meet with you and your pet anywhere from every few days to once every couple of weeks. Serial measurements are taken, including muscle circumference and joint flexibility, to gauge progress. In between sessions, a therapist will prescribe exercises and activities for the owner and pet to complete at home.

Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care has recently opened a rehabilitation therapy center right here in Culpeper County. The therapy is prescribed and overseen by our veterinarians. However, the real expertise comes from one of our Licensed Veterinary Technicians, Maria Brotten.

Maria’s education includes completion of all the necessary courses and laboratory sessions in the University of Tennessee’s renown rehabilitation program. She is currently compiling clinical case studies to be eligible to take the credentialing examination. (My own dog, a Great Dane with a neurologic condition, is currently undergoing therapy as one of Maria’s case studies.) In addition to her rehabilitation-specific education, Maria holds associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology. She also has fifteen years of experience in clinical veterinary medicine, including rehabilitation experience in a practice in Woodbridge, Virginia.

We are all excited to add professional rehabilitation services to our practice’s offerings. We plan to integrate physical rehabilitation with other treatments, like our class-IV therapeutic laser, acupuncture, nutritional support, herbal treatments, and the safest, most effective modern pharmaceuticals. If you think your pet might benefit from rehabilitation therapy, please feel free to call my office at (540) 428-1000 and ask to speak to Maria.