Treatment | UNDERWATER TREADMILL

A treadmill that fills up with water! This specific form of hydrotherapy has become very popular with canine rehabilitation. Underwater treadmills were originally developed for rehabilitating racehorses in the 1970s, through observation that an animal frequently does not use a limb on land and will use it in the water.

Benefits:

  • Allows early intervention – often before land walking if full weight bearing is limited after surgery
  • Minimises muscle loss and joint degradation
  • Provides faster rehabilitation
  • Optimal return to function
  • Correct but exaggerated gait pattern (flexion stifle e.g. CCL, elbow dysplasia)
  • Weight loss/ cardio vascular fitness
  • Safe and controlled environment
  • Specific conditioning program provided with intensive rehabilitation knowledge
  • Adjustable buoyancy reduces stress on joints e.g. knee injuries, arthritis
  • Jets for increased resistance
  • Variable speeds and directions
  • Heated (28-32 C degrees) – improves comfort, circulation, elasticity (tendon/contracture); and range of motion, decreases pain
  • Hydrostatic pressure – reduces swelling
  • FUN!! Can play with reduced impact (toys), mental and emotional well-being

In a recent study (Dickson et al,. 2011)   it was concluded: “Exaggerated motion of limbs may present a potential for use of walking in water to strengthen skeletal muscle and associated joints. Locomotion in water may also be beneficial for therapy because of buoyancy and reduced weight bearing on skeletal elements.”

Why not just swim?

There is a different pattern of movement in the limbs with swimming. Read this recent research article explaining the differences in gait for these types of hydrotherapy.. Aquatic treadmill water level influence on pelvic limb kinematics in cranial cruciate ligament-deficient dogs with surgically stabilised stifles

Swimming can be good to improve the flexion of the limbs with no weight bearing forces or impact. However often the conditions are not stable (e.g. waves, sand,).

The action in the treadmill activates the hind limbs muscles more effectively and allows accurate gait assessment. Brooke can show her clients signs of fatigue in the dog to help with their walking program at home. She also uses treatment techniques during gait for optimal performance.

The underwater treadmill is a clean, controlled environment and allows the dog to be introduced slowly to water. This is particularly beneficial for water anxious dogs. Often after a few sessions the dog is able to start a water program at home or the beach where they previously have been too anxious.

Therefore a perfect combination for rehabilitation!