Canine Sports Medicine and Physical Rehabilitation

What is physical rehabilitation?

The use of physical therapy to assist recovery is now well-accepted practice in human medicine and surgery. More recently, great strides have been made in identifying similar methods to help our veterinary patients. The therapy targets restoration of physical function; for example, the abiltiy to walk in a previously paralyzed patient. Physical rehabilitation involves numerous techniques including manipulation, electrotherapy (therpeutic laser, ultrasound and electrical stimulation) and exercise. Physical rehabilitation can promote a more rapid recovery from neurological or orthopedic disorders and surgery, helping to avoid complications associated with prolonged bed rest. In otherwise healthy patients, this therapy can improve or maintain strength, stamina and body condition.

What can you expect?

After initial evaluation, a customized plan for therpay is developed to address the particular challenges of the patient. We will discuss management options with you and determine a schedule of visits. Post-operative patients might initially be managed as inpatients, but the majority of treatments are performed on an outpatient day-care basis. The education of owners to perform simple strength and coordination exercises at home is an important role of our service. The response to rehabilitation is monitored by your attending board-certified neurologist, nutritionist, or surgeon.

Who can benefit from rehabilitation?

  • Preoperative orthopedic surgical patients, e.g. cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture, hip dysplasia
  • Postoperative orthopedic surgical patients, e.g. CCL repair, femmoral head ostecomy, fracture repair
  • Orthopedic medical patients, e.g. osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthropathy
  • Neurological patients, e.g. intervertebral disc prolapse, degenerative myelopathy, wobbler syndrome, fibrocartilaginous embolism
  • Overweight patients
  • Geriatric patients
  • Agility, performance and working dogs

What are the benefits of rehabilitation?

  • Reduce pain
  • Promote the healing process
  • Restore and maintain range of joint motion and normal movement patterns
  • Build muscle mass during recovery from injury or surgery
  • Allow safe and controlled activity during the recovery period
  • Increase cardiovascular fitness
  • Combat obesity, in association with correct diet
  • Improve overall quality of life

Services offered by Ohio State's Veterinary Medical Center Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service 

  • Underwater treadmill
  • Terrestrial treadmill
  • Low-level laser therapy
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Massage therapy
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Balance and coordination training
  • Gait training


  • Nina Kieves, DVM, DACVS, DACVSMR, CCRT, Associate Professor-Tenure, Small Animal Surgery, Service Head
  • Arielle Pechette Markley, DVM, cVMA, CCRT, CVPP, DAIPM, Staff Veterinarian


  • Kelly Andrews, RVT, CCRVN, Supervisor
  • Amanda Burkhart, RVT

For more information on the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center's Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, please call (614)292-3551.