Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals

physical-therapyThere’s nothing more distressing than seeing a beloved animal in pain. What should you do? What options are there for your animal?

There are plenty – and the choices can be confusing for the “pet parent”.

In this new book, physical therapist Susan Davis outlines the non-veterinary options available for rehabilitation of animals, what a therapist is looking for, and what can be achieved.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals
– a guide for the consumer, by Susan E Davis PT
Paperback, 286pp
Joycare Media, July 30, 2013
ISBN-10: 0989275000 / ISBN-13: 978-0989275002
RRP $19.95, Available from Amazon

This book is focused on non-equine animals, particularly cats and dogs. Horses have their own special needs and therapies, and because of their use in racing and sports, physical therapies are well advanced and very specialised.

In fact, little thought was given to physical therapy for other animals, until about the late 1990s. Davis, who has been a therapist since the 1970s, first began an animal practice in 2008. She also offered pro bono services at an animal shelter and zoo, which opened up a great adventure. “This field is exploding,” Davis says, “(owners) need to be equipped to make wise decisions and know what alternatives or adjuncts are available in veterinary care.”

Indeed, there is a wealth of learning and information in the book, starting with exactly what a therapist is looking for when assessing an animal for the first time.

Treatments may include manual movement and massage, and there are also myriad “physical modalities” and equipment available, such as laser, ultrasound, underwater and land treadmills, and the function and purpose of each is fully explained.

Specific conditions and their rehabilitation are also noted, including canine hip dysplasia (CHD), cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears, rotator cuff injuries, and elbow dysplasia. Congenital abnormalities are also discussed.

There is also a chapter on the rehabilitation of neurological conditions, which can include degenerative myelopathy (DM) and Wobbler Syndrome, which can affect large breeds such as Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. In the case of the latter condition, the author also notes what not to do in terms of physical therapy.

Help for when a pet is suffering from other medical conditions, such as cancer, amputation, and arthritis is also included, as is advice on geriatric care.

Show and sporting animals are also discussed, as well as injury prevention, and maintenance.

As far as pet care goes, this book is a must-read for those who care about the health and well-being of their animals.


susan-davisSusan E. Davis is a New Jersey Licensed Physical Therapist with over 35 years’ clinical experience, who transitioned from human practice to working with animals. She owns and operates Joycare Onsite, LLC, formed in 2008, providing Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation services exclusively to multiple animal species: in the pet’s home, farm, in clinics, animal shelters, and a zoo. She provided her services pro-Bono once per week for over five years to the Associated Humane Societies, in Forked River, NJ.

She currently provides pro-Bono PT care to the animals at Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ. Susan is a member of the International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy and the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce.

She is a past member of the American Physical Therapy Association and its Animal Rehabilitation Special Interest Group and the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners. In addition to clinical practice, Susan is a writer and author, public speaker and consultant.

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