Our team provides Veterinary Physical Rehabilitation treatments to patients in the Gauteng region. With our new Mobile unit, we are able to reach many more homebound and otherwise inaccessible patients.
We are registered with the South African Veterinary Council and are owned and managed by Veterinarian Dr Tanya Grantham (BSc(Hons); BVSc; Certificate of Safety and Competence in Veterinary Acupuncture CertSCVA UK; Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner CCRP Univ.of Tennessee; Caninology Canine Body Worker (CCBW USA).
We have an indoor, heated pool. The temperature varies from 26°c – 30°c depending on the season. We are also proud to offer a specially designed underwater treadmill. We use various other types of equipment in the treatment of our patients including a Photizo light unit, a dry treadmill, various gym balls, balance equipment, and many more.
We are able to offer your animal companion an individualised treatment program using a combination of the modalities we offer at our facilities:
The definition of acupuncture is taken from 2 Latin words, acus meaning needle an puncture to penetrate. In short, insertion of solid, fine needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases. Acupuncture is primarily used for analgesia (pain control) but there are non-analgesic effects as well.
These include wound healing, anti-nausea (well documented in humans), stroke rehabilitation, nervous system modulation and modulation of the immune system. In people it is also used in the treatment of addictions.
Acupuncture works in painful conditions by ‘fooling’ the brain into thinking that potential tissue damage has occurred. The messages received and sent by the brain rank the new insult as more important than the ‘old’ (pain). Neurotransmitters are released which include endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers), serotonin (the happy hormone) and adrenalin. There are also local effects which include nerve stimulation, vasodilation, blood vessel proliferation and nerve growth. It has been used quite successfully in the treatment of acral lick granulomas using a technique called ‘fencing the dragon’.
Cases treated most successfully with acupuncture are those with a degree of pain. This will include all degenerative conditions (osteoarthritis) as well as intervertebral disc disease. It can also be used pre- and post-operatively. It is important to note that responses vary. Some people do not have any response to acupuncture and others swear by it. This variation in effect exists in animals as well, so the response is dependent on the individual.
Many guardians are reluctant to allow acupuncture on their companions because they are concerned about the animal’s level of distress. It is a relatively painless procedure and animals tolerate it well, even cats. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative so it is necessary to schedule more than one visit. Guardians have remarked that their companions seem to make a positive association with the experience, often seeming to look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice. Sometimes animals may react to the sensation as though they are expecting pain, but then relax because it does not occur. Most of the time they accept the fine needles very well and often become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment. It is uncommon to require sedation.
After examination, needles will be put into various parts of the body and moved or stimulated a few times. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your companion’s response both at the time and after the treatment. They may become sleepy and relaxed during the treatment. It is not uncommon for companions to go home and sleep very soundly for a long time.
Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a veterinary surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are some in humans and these can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy. There are a very few cases in which we would have to be very cautious about using acupuncture, but your veterinary acupuncturist can advise you of these.
The goal of the application of hot or cold therapy is to change the superficial core temperature of the soft tissue in the desired region (skin, muscle, joint) so that the symptoms of certain conditions are alleviated. In this way the affected tissue is targeted with minimal impact on the surrounding tissue.
Cold therapy also reduces pain, as well as inflammation. It can decrease haemorrhage and bruising, and bring down swelling. Cold therapy achieves this by cause constriction of the blood vessels. It is best to apply cold in times of acute injury, or if an area is hot to the touch. Cold penetrates deeper and lasts longer than heat application because of the way in which it decreases circulation.
Heat therapy results in a reduction of pain, relaxation in general but also of the targeted muscles, a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in heart and respiratory rates. Heat causes the blood vessels to dilate which increases circulation and enhances metabolism. Heat therefore positively affects tissue healing and repair. Another benefit of heat is that it increases the of tissue. This is important in areas with scar tissue and it simply means that we gain more stretch and so our exercise sessions can be more effective following application of heat. Heat is used in more chronic conditions and should never be applied to an area that feels hot.
From time immemorial, humankind has looked to water for survival, health and healing. Going back as far as the fifth century, Hippocrates prescribed baths in fresh spring water to cure a plethora of illnesses. The Romans and Egyptians are also well known to have used a combination of hot and cold water, in often ornate and lavish public, and private baths.
During the nineteenth century, there was a rise in the popularity and money invested in racing, specifically using horses and dogs. The Horse Racing fraternity achieved excellent results in using sea swimming and water in equine rehabilitation and the prevention of injury. This drew the attention of Greyhound Racing professionals, who embraced hydrotherapy and adapted it to supporting canine physiology.
Since then, the multiple benefits of water treatments have become readily available to all guardians of canine companions.
Canine hydrotherapy is ideal for cases and patients where chronic, post-operative, pre-operative, developmental or neurological conditions make weight bearing exercise difficult. It is also excellent for developing stamina and endurance, toning and building muscle and, increasing overall fitness and agility in obese canines, or canine athletes.
The upward thrust of water against a body lessens the effect of gravity and allows the canine patient greater range of motion without experiencing pain or pressure in injured joints (such as in osteoarthritis).
Water also exerts pressure on the body as its depth increases, often this is experienced by the canine patient as an increased sense of stability and is especially useful in cases of neurological damage (such as in degenerative spinal disorders). It also assists in improving circulation by encouraging accumulated swelling to be returned naturally back into the body.
Water molecules tend to adhere, and at its surface, water exerts cohesive force which can be used to increase workload in a specific area, muscle group or joint (such as muscle development or fitness). This attribute can also be used to protect a specific area if required (such as post-operatively). Muscle wastage can be reversed and muscle bulk increased.
The frictional resistance, which is a result of water cohesion, combined with turbulence at the surface of water can play an important part in developing the canine patient’s unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation (proprioception). This can be particularly valuable for ‘working dogs’ or canine athletes. In addition, in water, the heart needs to work harder, becoming fitter and stronger. Most of the major muscle groups are toned during hydrotherapy and the general overall fitness of the canine can be improved.
Canines are treated in heated water, which increases blood circulation and improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients to, and the removal of cellular waste products from, muscles. Not only does this lead to a reduction of any swelling and muscle relaxation, but the patient will also experience less pain and stiffness.
Hydrotherapy is usually performed in pools or aquatic (or underwater) treadmills. Each has specific applications and cater for a wide range of conditions.
Aquatic or underwater treadmills are particularly useful in cases where respiratory and heart conditions demand reduced pressure on the chest. The ability to alter water height allows for variety in buoyancy and offers alternatives from non-weight bearing to full-weight bearing, and everything in between. It also can be used to determine the flexion and extension angle of a specific joint, which is not possible whilst swimming. Treadmills, which allow the therapist to stand with the dog in the water, enable the therapist to support the patient and allow her to optimise gait changes during a session.
Hydrotherapy pools are particularly effective in cases where a canine patient is in pain or is not able to bear its weight after injury or surgery. Here, hydrostatic pressure allows the canine to perform movements that it finds difficult on land. In addition, there may be a manual or electric hoist for lifting canine patients in and out of the water. The hoist can also be used to support the patients in the water, and allow the therapist to perform the required exercises.
Harnesses and flotation devices can be added to a treatment depending on the age and ability of the canine patient in question.
Hydrotherapy has been used very successfully with the canine patient who:
• has had surgery or will be having surgery, such as hip replacements, Femur Head Amputation, or Cranial Cruciate Rupture;
• has a developmental condition, such as Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, or Patella Luxation;
• has a degenerative condition, such as Osteoarthritis or Spondylosis;
• has a neurological condition, such as Disc Disease, Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Fibro-Cartilaginous Embolism (FCE), Spinal injury/trauma/shock or Neuromuscular Disease;
• has had a soft tissue injury, such as tendinitis, or muscle or ligament strain;
• is obese, or has a heart or respiratory condition;
• is a working dog or canine athlete;
• requires improvement in:
– cardiovascular and muscle
– core strength,
– gait modification,
– muscle bulk,
As with all physical therapies, the skill and ability of the Rehabilitation Veterinarian, Physiotherapist or Hydrotherapist is key to the success of the treatment, so you need to check that they are appropriately trained and have the experience to handle your canine companion’s specific condition. It is also important to remember that any rehabilitative program should be undertaken with the direction of your Veterinary Doctor or Surgeon. Hydrotherapy is now widely recognised as a positive adjunct to conventional veterinary care.
In addition to facility based therapy, a Home program can be custom designed by your Rehabilitation Veterinarian, Physiotherapist or Hydrotherapist so that you can maintain your canine companion’s health and physical wellbeing in the comfort of familiar surroundings.
Laser therapy is used to manage acute and chronic inflammation.
For pain relief and post-surgery wound healing.
Photizo available for rental.
Exercises for Balance and Proprioception
Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and changes in joint position. Proprioception enables us to know where our limbs are in space, without having to look. In other words, if I close my eyes and step forward, why do I not fall over (assuming I am normal)? As I move my foot and leg forward there are thousands of receptors (attached to nerve endings) which lie in my skin, muscles, tendons, joints, in fact in all tissue which send information about the position of my limb to my brain. In a split second, the brain receives and processes the information and our leg/foot braces and takes the necessary action to prevent me from falling over. I do not require vision to stay upright. This is proprioception. Balance operates in partnership with proprioception and is the ability to adjust equilibrium, when stationary or mobile, when there is a change in direction or ground surface. In the earlier example, balance manages stability during and after movement . There must be proprioception (body awareness) and balance in order to stay standing.
The most extreme form of proprioceptive damage occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord. Dogs with this type of injury can be completely paralysed (severe) or may have developed a wobbly walk and are unable to correct their paw if flipped over (moderate). However, if a dog injures his knee and the knee swells, then the pressure on the nerve endings and receptors in the joint will adversely affect proprioception. This means that when your dog walks he has less awareness of where that knee is in relation to the rest of the limb. If he runs with the swollen knee then there is an increased risk of more injury because of a lack of proprioceptive feedback and a greater possibility that he will misstep.
Human gyms have many types of balance and stability equipment. All small animal rehabilitation facilities do too. These can include exercise balls and physiorolls (peanuts), foam pads, air cushions, Bosu balls and wobble boards. Exercises to enhance balance and proprioception can include walking in circles or figure of eights, walking on different surfaces, negotiating obstacles and walking over cavaletti rails. Exercises can be performed at a slow and steady pace for compromised animals, but at a higher more challenging speed for canine athletes.
The important factor is to determine what our dogs do every day. Companions which lie around the house for most of the day will require easier exercises as opposed to an agility dog whose daily regimen is more demanding. Balance and proprioceptive exercises can benefit dogs of all sizes and ages from young puppies learning about their bodies, to older companions who have lost strength and stability through aging. The goal of these exercises is to enhance body and limb awareness, encourage weight shifts and muscle contractions, and facilitate balance and function.