Manual therapy techniques are skilled hands-on movements which encompass joint mobilization, passive range of motion (PROM), massage or soft tissue mobilization (STM) , myofascial techniques, manual traction, stretches, active exercises and other interventions designed to activate muscles, connective tissues, and stimulate nerves in order to facilitate healing and restore optimal function. It is hugely beneficial in modulating pain, reducing soft tissue swelling, inflammation and improving range of motion.
Our hands are a valuable diagnostic and rehabilitation tool. Manual therapy is a fundamental approach in designing a successful rehab program. Thus, manual skills are critical in the successful evaluation and treatment of our patients.
Massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, which promotes health in dogs and is a form of alternative therapy. Massage can be offered for relaxation, rehabilitation or competition – “sports massage” purposes and helps to maintain or improve both physical and emotional well-being.
Benefits include maintained strength and flexibility of muscular system, enhanced recuperation time, healthy skin and coat promoted by distributing natural oils, improved circulation of body fluid (blood and lymph), oxygenation of tissues, therefore better metabolism, provided relief from muscle tension, stiffness, soreness, spasms, tightness and weaknesses, relief from chronic pain and discomfort, provides posture maintenance and balance, releases trigger points (knots) , helps to relieve age related problems, relieves connective tissue restrictions, muscle spasm and stress, reduces build-up of fibrous tissue adhesions and reverses muscle atrophy from inactivity or disuse and stimulates elimination of waste and toxic debris.
Cryotherapy (or cold therapy) is the application of a cold object to an affected area of the body, such as a surgical site, to provide therapeutic effects by reducing tissue temperature. Research has shown that cryotherapy is effective in the first 72 hours after acute injury or surgery.
Benefits of cryotherapy has shown to help with analgesia, vasoconstriction, decreasing blood flow to the affected area, reducing cellular metabolism and reducing oedema, muscle spasms, and initial immune response to injury or surgery.
The use of cold therapy includes any injury or procedure that causes inflammation, pain, or decreased range of motion and neurologic disorders, such as spasticity. Cryotherapy is indicated postoperatively for pain and swelling. There are additional disorders where cryotherapy is used to address pain and inflammation such as Fracture repairs, tendon and ligament injuries and osteoarthritis.
Thermo Therapy (of heat therapy) is used to achieve effects opposite to those of cryotherapy; however, both modalities are used to provide analgesia and decrease muscle spasms. Since cold therapy should be performed for the first 72 hours, heat therapy should only be initiated after 72 hours and continued for a period based on the individual patient. Beginning heat therapy too early can lead to worsening oedema, swelling, and potential seroma formation.
Benefits of thermo therapy has shown to help with analgesia, decreasing muscle spasms, increasing impulse conduction and fibrous tissue elasticity, vasodilation and decreasing blood pressure if heat is applied for long periods of time.
Heat therapy is used for chronic inflammation, decreased range of motion, pain, muscle tension and in preparation for additional exercises including stretching and therapeutic ultrasound. Specific procedures or disorders that benefit from heat therapy include Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture, Fracture repair, OCD management, Tendon and ligament injury management, Neurologic disorders, such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), Osteoarthritis, Spondylosis.
Passive Range of Motion
Passive range of motion (PROM) refers to exercises that move joints through their available range of motion without weight bearing muscle contraction and helps with preventing joint and muscle contracture, analgesia, increasing blood flow and lymphatic flow, increasing synovial fluid production to decrease articular cartilage degradation and prevention of joint degeneration and muscle contracture during the acute rehabilitation phase for patients undergoing hemilaminectomy to treat IVDD.
PROM, however, will not prevent muscle atrophy or increase strength or endurance. PROM is mostly used for conditions related to surgical procedures or soft tissue injuries to extremities where active weight bearing is prohibited or in paralyzed animals. PROM provides therapy for specific disorders, such as Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (CCLR) stabilization using TPLO or TTA, Hip or Shoulder injuries or disorders, Fractures, OA and Geriatric Patients, or it form a part of the Canine Sports Medicine regime to improve flexibility and mobility.
Balancing exercises (also called Balance Therapy) can be used to improve balance once the patient has regained the ability to stand on its own or with the assistance of a sling or therapy ball. This therapy is focused on helping the animal understand that the affected limb is no longer painful.
Weight shifting exercises is helpful in the sense that the patient can build confidence to use a limb in a safe and supportive environment. It is also beneficial to increase muscle mass, improve proprioception and co-ordination, and allows early return to function and rebuilds core muscle strength.
In a Rehab protocol, we incorporate balance exercises into our therapeutic exercise programs and is used in cases of loss of proprioception, muscle atrophy, pathologic weight shifting.
Walking exercises are possible one of the easiest modalities to incorporate into and rehab program and it is essential to any animal’s rehabilitation program. Walking exercises provide increased range of motion, improved gait, muscle mass, and strength, improved circulation in blood and lymphatic vessels, increased endurance and prevention of joint degeneration.
Walking exercises are indicated early in rehabilitation for animals refusing to use their affected limb due to muscle weakness, decreased range of motion, circulation disorders, neurologic deficits, and proprioceptive deficits. Leash walking can be performed once the patient’s ambulatory status permits exercise.
The TTouch technique in an excellent way of bringing about positive behavioural, emotional and physical changes in your dog. It works with gentle, non-invasive stroking, lifting and manipulation of the dog’s skin, extremities and limbs – which we teach you in a one-on-one session, or as part of a workshop. This is fast growing internationally acclaimed technique is proven to have a calming effect, enabling you to enhance or minimize certain behavioural attributes.
At Paws-itive Paws-abilities, Manual Therapy is collectively used with all our other modalities, but in particular with the therapeutic exercises, in the spa bath, Initial contact before the start of an evaluation, or in general while we are conducting an EMS / TENS session. Massages especially is as beneficial to the giver as it is for the receiver.