A holistic veterinary practice in Jacksonville Beach recently opened a new rehabilitation wing at its facility that features a water treadmill and a physical therapy room.
“This has been a dream of mine that started a couple years ago,” said Dr. Jenna Hauck, owner of Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness, which treats dogs and cats. “I’m so excited to be able to offer this to the Beaches and to Jacksonville.”
Located at 480 Osceola Ave., the practice installed the water treadmill in the beginning of May.
Dr. Jessie Burgess, who leads the practice’s rehabilitation efforts, explained that the buoyancy enabled by the treadmill allows patients experiencing pain to rehab safely with less pain because they don’t have to carry 100 percent of their weight in the water.
She also said the treadmill helps patients build, strengthen and relax their muscles due to the hydrostatic pressure and viscosity that characterize the machine. An additional benefit of the treadmill, she said, is the resistance of the water, which helps patients decrease swelling.
Hauck explained that a range of patients come into the practice to use the treadmill. The most common participants, she said, are dogs and cats recovering from surgery. In addition, she said the water treadmill is beneficial for overweight patients, or older patients who have found themselves in a downward cycle of walking less and becoming weaker.
The treadmill, Hauck said, is easier on their joints because of the buoyancy. As a result, they can begin rebuilding muscle and become more confident.
“It just really can be so gratifying,” said Hauck, who opened the overall practice in 2011.
Hauck added that the treadmill is also valuable for athletic dogs that may be recovering from injury. Julie Marco of Atlantic Beach recently started brining her three-year-old Belgian Malinois, Electra, into the practice for that very reason. Marco explained that Electra is a top-10 dock diving dog in the country who has sustained muscular injuries throughout her competitive life. She said the water treadmill and overall rehab services at Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness have become a newfound saving grace for her dog.
“There’s really not a lot I could have done without this type of rehab,” said Marco. “Doing this will be a long-term solution.”
Burgess explained that Electra displays abnormalities with her gait and resistance to jump vertically. Options of traditional western medications and potential muscular injections are aimed to support and "bandaid" these clinical signs, she said, but are limited in diagnosing and correcting the primary problem.
Burgess noted that the benefit of canine rehabilitation for a dog like Electra is that they can work with the patient’s body to heal the muscular injury through stretching, range of motion and controlled exercise and movements in the underwater treadmill and get her back to competitive athletic status as soon as possible.
In addition to the water treadmill, the vet practice recently added a new physical therapy room to its offerings. The room features several piece of equipment to help patients with their rehab, including cavaletti poles, physio balls, balance discs and wobble boards.
Hauck noted that an initial rehab consultation, which includes a free water treadmill trial, is $95. Moving forward, she said individual sessions with the water treadmill cost $65. Using the physical therapy room ranges in cost from $25-50, she added, depending on the exercises that are completed.
“I’m super excited about letting people know,” said Hauck, whose practice also offers acupuncture, chiropractic services, Chinese herbs, laser therapy, homeopathy and massage therapy. “I think it’s going to be such a great thing. We’re just getting busier every day. It’s awesome.”