The underwater treadmill is a form of hydrotherapy that involves a tank filled with water that has a treadmill in the bottom. The advantages of using an underwater treadmill versus a land treadmill is that it decreases pain and weight bearing stressors, offers generalized muscle relaxation in a warm water environment, challenges coordination and balance, and increases strength.
The underwater treadmill can be used for the recovery of most orthopedic and neurologic conditions, and is a useful addition to many postoperative therapy plans. It can also be used for conditions that do or do not require surgery. It can also be used in healthy animals to increase strength.
The water provides an upward thrust that reduces the weight of the dog’s body. The amount of upward thrust depends on the volume of the water displaced. As the water depth increases, weight bearing decreases and allows decreased impact force from gravity as the legs are supported by water’s buoyancy. Buoyancy also allows us to maximize passive and active range of motion.
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