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Veterinary Neurologic Rehabilitation: The Rationale for a Comprehensive Approach
- Frank, Lauren R., Roynard, Patrick F.P.
- Topics in companion animal medicine 2018 v.33 no.2 pp. 49-57
- acupuncture, analgesia, animal injuries, death, dogs, electrical treatment, etiology, gait, humans, inflammation, intervertebral disks, medicine, pain, patients, peripheral nervous system diseases, pets, physical therapy, protocols, sclerosis, spinal cord, surgery, veterinarians, veterinary medicine
- The increase in client willingness to pursue surgical procedures, the heightened perceived value of veterinary patients, and the desire to provide comprehensive medical care have driven the recent demand of using an integrative treatment approach in veterinary rehabilitation. Physical therapy following neurologic injury has been the standard of care in human medicine for decades, whereas similar rehabilitation techniques have only recently been adapted and utilized in veterinary medicine. Spinal cord injury is the most common neurologic disease currently addressed by veterinary rehabilitation specialists and will be the primary focus of this review; however, research in other neurologic conditions will also be discussed. Of particular interest, to clients and veterinarians are techniques and modalities used to promote functional recovery after neurologic injury, which can mean the difference between life and death for many veterinary patients.The trend in human neurologic rehabilitation, often regardless of etiology, is a multimodal approach to therapy. Evidence supports faster and improved recoveries in people after neurologic injury using a combination of rehabilitation techniques. Although the primary neurological disorders researched tend to be spinal cord injury, peripheral neuropathies, allodynia, multiple sclerosis, and strokes—many correlations can be made to common veterinary neurological disorders. Such comprehensive protocols entail gait training activities in combination with neuromuscular electrical stimulation and directed exercises. Additionally, pain-relieving and functional benefits are bolstered when acupuncture is used in addition to rehabilitation. Studies, both laboratory and clinical, support the use of acupuncture in the management of neurologic conditions in small animals, specifically in cases of intervertebral disc disease, other myelopathies, and neuropathic pain conditions. Acupuncture’s ability to promote analgesia, stimulate trophic factors, and decrease inflammation, including neuroinflammation, make it an alluring adjunct therapy after neurologic injury.Although there is limited research in veterinary medicine on physical techniques that expedite recovery after neurologic injury, there are sparse publications on clinical veterinary research suggesting the benefits of acupuncture, rehabilitation, and LASER in dogs with intervertebral disk disease. Accordingly, due to the relative lack of evidence-based studies in veterinary neurologic rehabilitation, much of the data available is human or laboratory-animal based, however, evidence supports the utilization of an early, comprehensive treatment protocol for optimal neurologic recovery. The rationale for why an integrative approach is critical will be detailed in this review; in addition, literature on specific physical rehabilitation techniques that have evidence of improved recoveries after neurologic injury, will be addressed.