PULLMAN – Thanks to two donors and a dedicated veterinary technical staff, Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital  medicine services for companion animals including physical therapy and obesity control.
The equipment centerpiece is an underwater treadmill purchased and installed in the veterinary teaching hospital with gifts provided by two grateful donors.  The treadmill is underwater so the water level can be varied according to the patient’s needs for partial weight bearing.  The water level affects the buoyancy and therefore how much weight is born on each limb during exercise.
On the human side, Lori Lutskas, one of the WSU veterinary hospital’s team of licensed veterinary technicians, has also completed specialty training as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee.
Indications for rehabilitation medicine include bone, joint, and connective tissue, injuries, diseases, and surgeries; arthritis; hip dysplasia; post-operative surgical  recovery; pain management; promotion of muscular development; and neurologic injuries, diseases and surgeries. 
“A typical rehabilitation protocol will add an additional $300 per week to post-operative care for an average case,” said Lutskas.  Typical duration of the specialty care is two weeks in most cases.  Pricing is similar for animals enrolled in a weight reduction and exercise program, too.
“In addition to the treadmill, WSU provides a number of other effective modalities including therapeutic massage, hydrotherapy, hot and cold thermotherapy, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and more,” Lutskas said.
Owners can now also seek professional help for obese pets at WSU, too.  Overweight pets will be assessed physically and have an exercise protocol developed for them.  A combination of hydrotherapies and prescribed exercises performed three times per week and nutritional counseling are the foundation for getting the “well-loved” pet back to a more healthy weight for their size and breed.
The college also has two faculty members certified in acupuncture and a third is in training.  Soon this service will also be available for many different species including horses. 
Lutskas will coordinate and conduct most of the rehabilitation sessions with animals as specified by WSU veterinarians and referring practitioners in the surrounding region.  Lutskas has more than 28 years experience as a veterinary technician. 
Specialty rehabilitation certification training includes more than 104 hours of study across seven different modules, according to Lutskas.  Veterinarians who took the certification courses and sat for the final examination said it was almost as difficult as the specialty surgery board examination.
To learn more about WSU’s newly organized Rehabilitation Medicine Service, contact Lutskas at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at (509) 335-0711.