How to Use The Homework Guides for Rehab After Dog Knee Injury or Surgery

Intro to the books, found on Amazon here:

 and here…

and elsewhere from a variety of booksellers.

Read the Preface.

Read the Prologue.

Read the whole booklet before beginning the work.

Thank you! Now continue to read this chapter. The above three bullet point sentences were for people who really want bullet points. Both the Preface and the Prologue contain beneficial information, and I think the following contents will answer several questions you might not even know you have!

This homework covers guidelines that may be used after any invasive procedure performed for surgical repair of your pet’s knee after a torn ligament, whether any of the bones were cut or not. Right now it does not matter so much that you know exactly which surgery was performed; the restrictions and care are equally beneficial.

These guidelines are also very beneficial for recovery after surgery for torn meniscus and after surgical intervention for osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) (yes, really, but different from psych OCD) of the stifle (knee) joint. Whichever method of surgery was used, this homework is an excellent place to continue the healing journey!

As I stated earlier, written programs like this were not readily available, if at all, when I first began working officially in small animal veterinary medicine rehab in 2004. I knew from working with athletes and others, as well as from reading related research for several decades, that very slowly progressing, return-to-function programs were needed for our pets, as well.

In light of what I knew, I began using simple post-surgical protocol I developed. The larger discussion, continually, is among varieties of veterinarians who have come to believe in a particular method or methods of surgery to be used to stabilize the knee after ruptured cranial cruciate ligament. Regardless of method used, this intro protocol should be very beneficial toward accustoming the joint to greater amounts of use again, toward improving bone healing, and toward improving bone and muscle strength.

I don’t have the money to fund a large study or the time to ask for it at this point or in recent years. I do, however, have the validation of many veterinarians who have seen the progress of the pets whose caretakers have fastidiously followed my instruction for at least 8 weeks.

Often people see such notable improvement after only 4 weeks that they don’t understand the need to continue to follow through with progressive rehab. In well-established human rehabilitation protocol for ACL surgery, patients are progressed through criteria-based functional activities and evaluations for discharge from rehab are targeted between 4 and 6 months after surgery.*

Is this happening with your pet?

My preference is that people follow at least 12 weeks of rehab protocol for their pets in almost every case. The feedback from situations of which I am aware where this has occurred has been entirely positive.  This homework is an excellent place to continue the healing journey, so take a deep breath and move forward confidently!

Also, as noted, my practice and protocol are based on using the home or a standard vet clinic environment to accomplish functional rehabilitation. I prefer land-based exercise because I find it very practical for most pets and their caretakers after this surgery. You may put your internet researching skills to good use by looking for research data which encourages the use of weight-bearing exercise, where possible, to bring about greatest changes toward healing, including bone strengthening and the strengthening of soft tissue, as well as muscle hypertrophy. The latter is often the reason animals are referred to me; people want to see the muscle rebuilt where it has diminished over time due to injury and subsequent lameness (muscle atrophy).

Some people will want to utilize a clinic and a water treadmill in addition to the instructions in this booklet, possibly because the clinic option is available and their veterinarian has recommended it. Most people do not have the option of a rehabilitation facility for their pet, and that’s okay, because it’s not necessary to have that in order for your pet to recover…so don’t fret!

Regardless, I find that people are really in need of instructions that outline steps they may take to assist the healing and improved return to function of their pet in the home environment. Caretakers usually just don’t know what to do that is proactive and practical at home after pet surgery (or injury!).

I also emphasize over and over that pain control is important to my rehab protocol. If you are not going to use enough pain control to help your pet bear weight on the injured leg, then you should consider using the water treadmill..

It is extremely important for pet caretakers to learn how to control and care for their companions at home after this surgery whether or not they also entrust this aftercare to a clinic for a few hours a week as well. Do collaborate with your vet clinic, yet also learn how to do your part, hopefully aided by the ideas in this booklet.

*You may find out more about the topic of clinic-based human rehabilitation from books like Postsurgical Rehabilitation Guidelines for the Orthopedic Clinician, Hospital for Special Surgery, Department of Rehabilitation, Copyright 2006, Elsevier, Inc.