Rehabilitation Facility

Underwater Treadmill Therapy

What is Underwater Treadmill Therapy?

With underwater treadmill (UWT) therapy, the dog walks on a treadmill belt, in water, at a controlled speed. The water provides buoyancy, which decreases weight bearing and stress on joints.

Walking on a treadmill belt pulls the dogs legs back further than they would go on land, and the added resistance of water makes the dog work harder to move forward.

We can alter the level of the water in order to improve the range of motion of specific joints.

The water is warm, making it very comfortable for arthritic joints and stiff muscles.

The UWT works to strengthen and reactivate muscles that have not been used properly due to injury/pain.

Pressure of the water over the surface of the legs causes sensory stimulation, which helps with the neural education to activate lazy muscles. This trains the body to start using those muscles in the UWT and they eventually start to use them correctly on land as well.

This is known as gait training and is a very important part of the rehabilitation process.

What to expect during a UWT session

  • The first session is usually a short one and is spent getting the dog used to the water and a moving treadmill.
  • Often dogs that are scared of swimming will adapt quickly to the UWT as their feet always touch the bottom.
  • Each dog adapts and progresses at a different pace and our sessions are tailored to each individual dog.

Number of sessions needed

Each dog has different needs, depending on the condition needing therapy, and each program is tailor made for the individual dog. Most dogs require at least 6 – 12 sessions, preferably 2 sessions per week for the first 2 – 3 weeks and then once weekly. Once they have built up to a 20 min continuous session, once weekly for about 6 weeks, we will reduce the frequency to once every 2 weeks or once a month, if appropriate.

The injury site will always be a weak spot and these maintenance treatments remind the body to use the muscles correctly.

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View our Water Therapy video below: