Physical Rehabilitation

Physical Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation medicine aims to decrease pain, improve healing, enhance performance, prevent compensatory injuries, restore functional ability and maintain an excellent quality of life. Physical rehabilitation therapists specialize in musculoskeletal rehabilitation, neurologic injuries and surgical recovery, sports medicine, osteoarthritis, pain management and treat illnesses that affect movement.

Your wellness goals for your pet may range from managing chronic disease, to surgical recovery, to non-surgical treatment of orthopedic injury or neurologic disease. The needs of each patient are unique and treatment plans are customized. We hope you will consider us to be a partner in your pet’s recovery process.

Together we will establish a comprehensive approach to achieving your goals for your pet. Our goal is  to manage or restore functionality in order to maintain an excellent quality of life for your pet.

Why Rehabilitation?

  • Increase strength, endurance, mobility, and performance
  • Reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation
  • Accelerate healing of injured tissues
  • Restore, maintain and improve range of motion, flexibility, and muscle mass
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Improve and prolong quality of life
  • Measure/fit and advise/instruct re: splints, supports and carts/wheelchairs

Common Conditions Treated

  • Pre-and post-operative orthopedic surgery (including post-CCL repairs)
  • Cruciate ligament tears
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Post-Fracture, joint luxation (dislocation), trauma
  • Medial shoulder instability
  • Arthritis
  • Back injury and intervertebral disc disease
  • Muscle strains, tendon injuries, muscle weakness and atrophy
  • Paralysis, degenerative myelopathy, other neurologic diseases

Your Pet’s Rehabilitation Appointments

Rehabilitation requires a referral from your veterinarian*. During your first rehab visit, a history of your pet’s injury/problem and overall functional goals for your pet will be discussed with you and any radiographic reports or other medical tests relevant to rehab will be reviewed.

As part of the initial rehabilitation visit, we will observe your pet’s movement, noting any problems with gait, posture, standing or sitting.  We will examine and palpate your pet’s joints, muscles, and soft tissues to determine any pain and/or limitations in movement or flexibility and grossly assess general neurologic function.  Measurements of joint range of motion and muscle mass may be taken to objectively monitor progress with treatment.

With this information, we assess your pet’s rehabilitative needs and develop an overall treatment plan that is individualized to your goals and your pet’s needs. Treatment options include a variety of possible physical modalities, manual therapy, massage, therapeutic exercise and in some cases, use of external supports.  In all cases, emphasis is placed on teaching you what needs to be done at home to achieve the desired rehabilitation goals. Pets benefit most when therapy is done on a regular and consistent basis over a period of time – whether that’s done in-clinic, at home or some combination of both.

* We can help you obtain a rehab referral from your vet, if needed. Referral forms and client questionnaire are available here.

Available Services

Manual Therapy

  • Myofascial release, joint mobilizations, massage, stretching, passive range of motion
  • Increase flexibility, improve neurologic function, decrease muscle spasm, pain relief


  • Pain relief, increase blood supply to healing tissues, decrease swelling, muscle relaxation

Class III Laser

  • Pain relief, enhance tissue healing

Therapeutic Ultrasound

  • Decrease scar tissue formation, enhance healing, deep heating, muscle relaxation, increase tendon extensibility

TENS and Neuromuscular Stimulation

  • Use of a small electric current to block pain signals or to stimulate muscle contractions
  • Pain relief, minimize muscle atrophy

Therapeutic Exercise

  • Balance boards, wobble disc, theraballs, cavaletti rails, weave cones, tunnels, plank, etc.
  • Improve flexibility, strength, and function
  • Facilitate limb use
  • Neurologic re-education: proprioceptive and balance training to improve coordination, mobility, and neuromuscular communication
  • Written Home Exercise Programs (HEP)

Therapeutic Splints, Supports, and Carts

  • Advice on need/benefits/limitations
  • Measurement/fit/proper use
  • Fabrication of casts for customized orthotics

Videos – Passive Range of Motion Exercises

Passive Range of Motion of the Hind Limb

Passive Range of Motion of the Fore Limb


Meet our Veterinary Rehabilitationist

Nancy Zimny PT, CCRT

Nancy Zimny PT, CCRT

Nancy Zimny qualified as a certified canine rehabilitation therapist (CCRT) through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in 2012, which included an internship at the Canine Fitness Zone in Ft. Collins, CO.

Prior to entering the world of animal rehabilitation, she was a human physical therapist for many years. After receiving her initial degree in physical therapy from the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to Colorado where she worked in a general hospital, a rehabilitation center, a school for children with multiple disabilities, a nursing home and an out-patient orthopedic clinic. After 8 years in Colorado, she moved back east to Boston and obtained a Master of Science degree from Boston University, worked part-time at a pain clinic and taught in the physical therapy program at Simmons College. Nancy is a native New Englander and settled in Vermont in 1980. Before retiring in 2008, she was a full-time Associate Professor of Physical Therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at the University of Vermont for 27 years.