Purdue Veterinarians Now Using Underwater Treadmill to Rehabilitate Dogs and Cats

Many of the animals using the underwater treadmill are post-operative neurologic and orthopedic patients.

Bond receives underwater treadmill treatment at Purdue’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.


After suffering a back injury, a 2-year-old Dachshund named Bond had movement in his front legs, but not his back legs. His owner, Robin Ream, told WLFI, “We were afraid that he might be on wheels for the rest of his life.”

Instead, Bond underwent surgery and is currently in a rehabilitation program at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Bond’s therapy involves a newly installed underwater treadmill. Stephanie Thomovsky, DVM and Clinical Assistant Professor of Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery, runs the teaching hospital's physical rehabilitation service. She told WLFI, “When you’re in water, you’re lighter and you’re easier to lift, so their hips are easier to lift, if they have a neurologic injury. Even if they have something orthopedically, the warming effects of the water help with that. Also, them being lifted and the buoyancy of the water helps make it easier for them to move.” She added that “it helps to rebuild kind of the mind and body connection.”

The underwater treadmill therapy so far has proven beneficial. After just five weeks, Bond is walking. The hope is that with continued therapy, he will be fully recovered.

Do you use underwater treadmill therapy in your practice?

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