River Meadow Farm Water Rehabilitation for Animals


By Tamara Sevigny

Located on a sprawling 54 acres, River Meadow Farm is a therapeutic rehabilitation center for canines and equines. They offer an array of different physical therapies, the most unique being the Aqua Therapy is owned by Dr. Michael Steward, a practicing equine vet since 1985 who is experienced in getting athletic dogs and horses into a successful therapy program. Physical therapy along with chiropractic and drug therapy and regular veterinary care are the ingredients to a successful recovery.

River Meadow Farm offers a variety of physical therapy options. Aqua Therapy allows your pet to stay physically fit without stressing injured joints and tendons. Having this exercise in a regular routine keeps horses from becoming too stressed from being confined to a stall and therefore prevents further injury. The Whirlpool relaxes muscles and keeps animals from putting too much stress on a good limb, compensating for a bad one. The relaxation helps increase joint range of motion. Canines can be stretched in the whirlpool and even take advantage of the underwater treadmill. Treadmills are also available for horses out of the whirlpool. Other therapeutic options include therapeutic ultrasound, acupuncture/accupressure, chiropractic, muscle/massage therapy, corrective exercises and corrective shoeing.

Getting your pet into a rehabilitation program by addressing lameness and strengthening issues can help your pet reach and maintain their full potential. Therapy can be started as soon as stitches are removed from a surgery, with the surgeon’s approval or at any time for long standing issues such as arthritis. After an injury, an animal limits the use of the affected joints, creating weakness and stiffness. Rehabilitation strengthens muscles and increases range of motion and promotes healing. Issues are addressed such as why the injury occurred in the first place, hopefully correcting the original problem while helping the current. Injured knees, hips, shoulders and elbow cause compensation with the other joint, making a second injury or surgery needed almost 80% of the time. With physical therapy the chances of having the second injury decreases to 15%.

Determining the right program for your pet is done with a simple hour-long examination by Dr. Steward and a certified Myotherapist. Together they determine the best course of action. By putting your pet into the pool and watching him/her swim, watching how they move, looking at things like their spine, back, shoulders and pelvis placement. Then into the whirlpool, which allows their muscles to relax, where they get in with your dog, feeling the muscles, joints and range of motion, etc. These simple exercises tell the educated staff about your dog’s injury, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and their range of motion, etc. From there a program is established for your pet, in conjunction with any recommended chiropractic, drug therapy, etc. Each visit thereafter will last approx. 30-45 minutes. The overall length of the program depends on your individual pet. You, as an owner, are very involved in the whole program, also working with them at work.

When the canine rehabilitation of River Meadow Farm opened 5 years ago, the therapies offered at the farm were new in their field. Since them, similar facilities are opening up all over and the field is flourishing, as is the success of these therapies. For more information about the therapies offered at River Meadow Farm, or to contact them, visit www.rivermeadowfarm.com or call 860-683-2386.

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