Aquatic Therapy: Underwater Treadmill
Charlotte Street Animal Hospital has been known to offer underwater treadmill therapy for companion animals since 2010. Underwater treadmills have long been used by human and equine physical therapists to rehabilitate people and horses from injury and to train for optimum performance.
The science behind therapy in the underwater treadmill is very simple. The buoyancy counteracts gravity and helps support injuries, while creating resistance. Because the patient floats in water while exercising, the possibility of losing balance and causing further injury is drastically reduced. Hydrostatic pressure (the pressure created on the body from being submersed in water) helps condition the cardiovascular system at a faster rate, and can decrease swelling from injuries. This is why aquatic exercise is also so effective in athletic training. The water in our treadmill is kept at a therapeutic level of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, to help decrease pain and relax tense muscles.
An optional jet stream creates further resistance when needed. Because the patient's weight is supported in water, your pet can walk easier and with a more normal gait, allowing tissues to heal more functionally.
We are so proud to have Dr. Beth Rhyne, CCRP, Asheville’s first veterinarian certified for canine physical rehabilitation, overseeing the use of our underwater treadmill. The addition of underwater therapy to our already effective physical rehabilitation program is a very exciting one. Underwater treadmill therapy can benefit the following conditions:
- Neurologic injuries
- Orthopedic injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back injuries
- Hip dysplasia
- Weakness in any limbs
- Weight loss for obese patients
- Cardiovascular training
- Muscle strengthening
- Agility training
Animals often learn how to walk on the treadmill very quickly. Many patients are trained to walk on the treadmill by the end of their first session. Most pets quickly come to enjoy their time in the treadmill, as we provide treats, praise, and toys. During the entire process we carefully monitor every patient, and there is a qualified assistant in the water until each pet has been fully trained and comfortable with the underwater treadmill. Our patients wear a harness or floatation device to help them feel relaxed and supported in the water. Because we can adjust the level of water in the treadmill, no patient is too small or too large.
Underwater treadmill therapy is a very effective mode of treatment and exercise. If your pet suffers from any physical ailment or would benefit from low-impact exercise, call us to schedule a rehabilitation consultation with Dr. Rhyne today! We would love to help your pet regain and maintain their peak physical health.