Veterinary physical rehabilitation needs are all around. Get on the ball!

VettedVetted April 2019
Volume 114
Issue 4

Insights on how to spot good candidates for rehab and where to get training so you can start improving mobility and comfort in all your patients.

Martin Schlechtk /

Where might you find patients that could benefit from physical rehabilitation? In all the physical exams that you do, says Matthew Brunke, DVM, DACVSMR, CCRP, CVPP, CVA. He has been a frequent speaker on physical rehabilitation at Fetch dvm360 conference. But you'll find him engaged in the topic all over, including at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on St. Kitts for the West Indies Veterinary Conference last November.

During one of his sessions, Dr. Brunke said all patients on long-term osteoarthritis medicine and those with obesity, intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) or fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) can benefit. “And doing a full physical examination on every patient will yield more patients for the rehab service,” he said.

One key in discerning which patients could feel a lot better from a little attention: “It's very important to know what is normal so that you know what is abnormal,” said Dr. Brunke. “Studies have shown up to 20% of all dogs have arthritis. That, along with obesity and neurological conditions, provides an ample supply of patients that could benefit from rehab.”

So where to get the training on all the details so you can dive into rehab? Dr. Brunke recommends the certification programs at the University of Tennessee, or the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. These programs can train veterinarians and technicians.

For those looking for more advanced training, veterinarians can also do a residency with the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, and technicians can opt for a VTS in rehabilitation.

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