The Times, March 20, 2004
therapy expanding into the field of veterinary medicine
Physical therapy can work wonders when a human is recovering from surgery or an injury. The latest therapeutic technology allows patients to recover more quickly with fewer medications. And over the last few years, therapy is no longer just for humans.
In 1998, Dr. Laurie McCauley opened TOPS Veterinary Rehabilitation Center in Grayslake, Ill. Since that time, Dr. Laurie McCauley has become one of the world's more recognized names in veterinary rehabilitation, lecturing nationally and internationally on the topic. Dr. Laurie McCauley obtained her degree from Colorado State University's School of Veterinary Medicine in 1992, and then practiced in Palos Heights, Oswego, Milwaukee and Kenosha before opening her business.
"When she opened, there was literally no one who was doing it," said Tom McCauley, Dr. Laurie McCauley's husband and the center's business manager. "She was one of the first to use an underwater treadmill for dogs."
The underwater treadmill, Tom McCauley said, is one of the most valued tools in the therapy regimen. "What dogs tend not to like about water is that they don't like their feet to leave the ground," he said. "We get them on the treadmill and then it is lowered into the water."
Other therapies at the center include therapeutic ultrasound, cryotherapy, neuromuscular stimulation, acupuncture, aquatic bioelectric therapy and animal chiropractic.
An initial assessment is the first step in deciding a therapy plan for the animal. For a non-paralyzed dog, the evaluation takes around two-and-a-half hours, Tom McCauley said.
Professionals at the facility will do a general and neurological assessment, evaluate joints and muscles, look for signs of weakness, pain and atrophy. The dog's gait will be assessed, and X-rays and information from the referring veterinarian will be reviewed.
"When we are assessing pain we look for very subtle signs of pain, the dog stops breathing, or turns his head away," Tom McCauley said. The vet is left with the job of identifying the reason for those subtle signs. "What we do here is much more of an art than a science," he said.
The information gained from the assessment is used to develop a treatment plan, usually consisting of therapy at the office and in the home. The next step, Tom McCauley said, is to manage the patient's pain with treatments, such as acupuncture and electromedical horizontal therapy. Cryotherapy and heat therapy is the use of cold and/or heat over an injured or healing area of the body.
Most dogs are treated as outpatients, but TOPS has a few inpatient facilities, each with a full-length window, a television and a radio. The center has three doctors and a physical therapist on staff. Dr. Laurie McCauley, and one other vet are certified in acupuncture and chiropractic, and another is being certified.
Professionals at TOPS see a range of patients, from agility dogs that have developed a limp to those severely paralyzed from disease or injury. The average patient is an older dog who has started to slip on the kitchen floors, or cannot take stairs. Typically the cause is arthritis.
"The reality is that there are a lot of people who come to us as a last chance," said Tom McCauley. "We have some dogs that have made a full recovery after being told they should be put to sleep. It's a rewarding experience to be a part of that."