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You CAN Teach An Old Doc New Tricks

Updated: Oct 27, 2018

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Becoming A CERTIFIED Canine Rehab Therapist (C.C.R.T)

Doc Wendy receives her C.C.R.T. as of 7/1/2016

Many of you may have been wondering where I have been lately. The answer is: back and forth to lovely (and sunny!) Coral Springs, Florida (twice in a month’s time) and then off to Fort Collins, Colorado, home to Colorado’s School of Veterinary Medicine. (No, not to enjoy some much needed time in the sun, though I did manage to work some of that into my schedule), but to embark on my quest to become a CCRT (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist). What in the world is that, you may ask. Think physical therapist/personal trainer for dogs.  For more info, click here.

With this advanced training, (which required 112 hours of classroom time, 40 hours of internship, lots of really hard tests, and hours of—Aack!–homework), I can now help your furry friends, young and old, to become more physically fit, recover faster from injuries, and enjoy relief from the aches and pains of, for example, arthritis. Read on for a photo journal and diary of my journey. 

Days 1-5, Introductory Course

I had to relearn the names of all of those pesky muscles, bones and ligaments I studied and forgot so many years ago in vet school. This time, not via dissection lab, but instead through “build-a-dog,” which involved applying clay muscles and ligaments to our own model dog skeleton (We named ours “Fluffy”). After lengthy lectures on origins, insertions and actions of these structures, we were ready to identify them on live canine “guinea pigs.” 

Day 6 – 9 Canine Sports Medicine

In which I learned all about agility, obedience, rally, lure coursing, fly-ball and much, much more, including how dogs move, jump and trot most efficiently and which therapeutic exercises can build and strengthen certain muscles so as to prevent injury and/or aid recovery.

Days 10 - 16, The Canine Rehabilitation Therapist

Putting it all together: from the thorough physical exam, including evaluation of pain, posture, gait, flexibility, range of motion and “joint play,” to prioritizing problems and coming up with a specific treatment plan aimed at helping your dog feel and move better as quickly as possible.

Treatment might include several different therapies combined, such as pain control modalities, like LASER and TENS, and manual manipulation (joint and soft tissue mobilization and passive range of motion). Next we add therapeutic exercises, including a home exercise program that is both fun and effective for you and your dog. Think balance boards, therabands, physio-balls, and cavaletti poles, to name a few “props” that will be my new “tools of the trade.”📷

And finally, days 17-22, the 40 hour internship at Colorado State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine

During this intense hands-on week, I examined and treated real patients under the guidance of one of my highly capable instructors. Typical cases included post-op knee surgery patients, older pooches with chronic pain and rear-limb weakness, and performance agility dogs with a variety of strains and sprains.

After a thorough neuromuscular evaluation, we formulated and implemented specific treatment plans aimed at pain management, improving strength and flexibility, and helping the patient quickly return to normal activity.

I am so excited by my new certification—because now, instead of just reaching for a bottle of pain medicine to help your furry friend, I’ll be able to say, “Gosh, ‘Max’ has strained his iliopsoas. (Don’t ask. I assure you, he has one!) I know just the thing to help him feel better.”

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