Every one of us typically prescribes some kind of at home exercise program for pet owners to complete. We’ve listed some tips and websites that will aide in developing this part of your practices.
- Create handouts with common exercises on them. Use pictures which clearly demonstrate hand positioning. This will save you some time when prescribing exercises. It will also give the owner a visual reminder and help them to remember just how many repetitions they should be completing. You can create individual handouts, or try creating a word document with several exercises listed. Then just print and highlight the ones you need.
- Examples of some common at home exercises: Elevated Forelimb Stands, Decline Stands, Weight Shifting, 3 Legged Stands, Bear Bells, Sit to Stands, Incline Walking, Cookie Stretches, Bottle Cap Walk, Army Crawling, Passive Range of Motion, Massage, and so many more…
- Practice exercises with patient’s before you add them to an at home program. You may find that you have to modify an exercise slightly to get the patient to complete it properly. Or you may find the exercise you were going to send home, just doesn’t work at all with that particular patient. It’s always best to test the waters first.
- Every time you add a new exercise to the patient’s at home program, make sure to physically demonstrate it to the owner. This will prevent any wrong hand placement, and ensure that the owner is confident in completing the exercise. If you have a well-educated owner, they’re more likely to do the homework.
- Keep the at home exercises to just a few. It may be easier and not so overwhelming for an owner to complete two or three exercises a few times daily verses a whole page of exercises several times daily. Change the exercises as needed, and as the patient progresses. Pet owner participation in rehab is crucial as we all know, so this is a very important tip.
- Create videos on your website with common At Home Exercises. This will allow owners to reference videos even when you’re not in the office. Here’s an example of one:
- Top Dog Animal Health and Rehabilitation provides at home exercise guides for pet owners. So an alternative to creating your own handouts may be to carry these guides to give to owners. Check out this guides created by Dr. James St. Clair at http://topdoghealth.com/home-rehab-guides/
- Be creative. The beauty of rehab is that we can always design our own at home exercises. Don’t be afraid to be original. There will always be those tough patients which defy the common exercises. They just didn’t read the handout!