Rudy increases his pace on the treadmill, a stoic expression on his face. On the other side of the room, Lucy is having a blast as she moves her legs through the water to reach the other end of the pool. Nearby, Larry concentrates as he begins a warm-up routine incorporating balancing exercises using the stability ball.
Is this the Lied Recreation Athletic Center? No… The Sports Medicine Department? You’re getting closer… It’s the Iowa State University Canine Rehabilitation Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Every day dogs perform a range of activities in the clinic, located in the Hixson-Lied Small Animal Hospital, under the supervision of certified rehab practitioner Joanna Hildreth and Dr. Mary Sarah Bergh, Iowa’s only board-certified canine sports medicine and rehab specialist. “We offer therapy for patients who have orthopedic or neurologic injuries, as well as rehab for obese, arthritic, or geriatric patients,” Hildreth said.
The rehab facility has an in-ground pool, therapeutic ultrasound, land treadmills, stability balls, cavaletti rails, stairs, grass, and offers neuromuscular electrical stimulation. The facility also has two underwater treadmills. “The first patient to use our underwater treadmill was one of the Des Moines K9 Officers who was shot in the line of duty,” Hildreth said. After surgery and post-operative therapy, he went back to active service for many years until he retired. “We have helped several service and therapy dogs get back to their jobs,” she added.
Patients receive customized therapy plans to help improve their particular condition. In some cases, it may be to recover from spinal surgery or ligament damage incurred by a sporting dog, or improve an arthritic condition of an older patient. Whatever the situation, these dogs receive lots of encouragement to do their exercises from the veterinary technicians and students.
Did you know? The Canine Rehabilitation Center sees nearly 1,000 animals each year. In addition to dogs, cats and even a miniature pony have rehabbed at the facility.
|A K9 Officer exercises in the underwater treadmill
at ISU’s Canine Rehabilitation Center.