Hydrotherapy, "hydro", swimming, underwater treadmill, UWTM, water walking...
By any other name it is NOT the same.
Several years ago when clinics started getting into (buying) underwater treadmills, there was a lot of internet marketing going on, which was understandable because not only would one want to promote the fact that they have the machine but these devices are HELLA expensive (more than a lot of cars).
So I was contacted by prospective clients on the daily, inquiring if I had an underwater treadmill for their pet's condition or illness. They'd read about *it* online and wanted it for their pet.
In general, aquatic therapy is great for the same principles (once again, as you'll read throughout my blog) as it is for humans; the principles of water therapy don't change with the species or being.
Water provides buoyancy which can be great to decrease weight in some needed circumstances - PLUS you have hydrostatic pressure, viscosity, warmth, resistance...all good things!
In a very tiny "nutshell", because I could write a report or guidebook alone on hydrotherapy, (traditional) swimming and the underwater treadmill are NOT the same; each have benefits for certain conditions.
I tend to choose "swimming" activities during the rehabilitative process for pets that have little to no active motion. They are, for all intents and purposes, paraplegic or paralyzed. (Think neurologic)
I will choose treadmill activities for weakness and for pets that need help with walking post-operatively or with arthritis...or even with athletic conditioning and obesity! (Think orthopedic)
That is NOT to say that I won't switch the modalities or activities depending on the client.
There really is no "cookbook".
With pets that need help walking or strengthening, the underwater treadmill is great because you get more "bang for your buck"; several minutes in the treadmill equal 1 minute on land. You can assist the pet with better walking habits in the treadmill and those habits tend to eventually carry over onto land treadmill or over ground walking. But...it has to be something, if you're using it for weight loss or conditioning, that you're going to continue with. You don't join a gym to use the treadmill for 2 months to learn to walk better and then just simply stop, do you?
But for this reason, plus whether or not it's appropriate for your pet's condition, and several other reasons it does NOT make the "UWTM" something that is the gold standard or necessary in all conditions.
Swimming tends to elicit a primitive behavior of moving the legs. It may not happen instantaneously and care needs to be taken to make sure that the cardiovascular system isn't overly taxed; it's a VERY fatiguing activity.
Here are some con’s:
All this to say...
Water therapy has its place but NOT to the exclusion of other types of activities and techniques.
MOST PETS (dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, goats...) can be rehabbed and improve their condition and function WITHOUT the use of any hydrotherapy!
And again, it may not be indicated for your particular pet.
Doing, say, 3 months solid of any physical activity, and then stopping, will most likely result in a loss of those small percentage gains that you, or your animal, may have achieved.
So be realistic. Pick something, after a thorough evaluation, that you can continue with longterm ...and makes sense.
Remember: Animal rehab & health means LIFE-long management.
There is a lot more I am happy to discuss about hydrotherapy.
What are YOUR questions?
This post is in tribute to m client, the beautiful "Blossy" (pictured) who recently passed over the rainbow bridge.
She is beautiful, isn't she?!
And very loved. And missed.