Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

The Village Veterinary Clinic of Hamburg opens its doors to pets in need of physical therapy and rehabilitation.  We pride ourselves on being able to offer our clients with the most cutting-edge technology along with the comfort and care that we have been providing for years.  This service may fill a missing piece in a pet’s comfort puzzle.  The goal of our veterinary physical therapist, Dr. Cely, and her team is to provide patients with a reduction in pain and inflammation.  They also strive to improve quality of life.  Please contact the hospital with any questions about our physical therapy program.

Dr. Cely and Veterinary Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Dr. Eliana Cely earned her degree in Veterinary Medicine from Universidad De La Salle Colombia. She completed one year in a small animal rotating internship at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and completed her residency in internal medicine and surgery at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Mexico (UAEM). While she was studying in Colombia and Mexico, she worked closely with patients rehabilitating from neurological and orthopedic problems.

Dr. Cely became certified in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI) in Florida. She is one of the few veterinarians in the Western New York area that is certified in physical therapy and rehabilitation!

During the first appointment, your pet will receive a complete physical exam, as well as orthopedic and neurological assessments, to determine your pet’s specific needs and the treatments indicated.  Most of the recommended treatments can be completed on an outpatient basis, with some immediate post-surgical cases requiring hospitalization.  Our patient’s owners play an integral role in their pet’s treatment by performing strength, conditioning and other exercises at home following detailed demonstrations by the therapy team.  It is this coordination between therapist, owner, and patient that will maximize the potential for a successful outcome!

Physical Therapy sessions include:

  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Range of Motion exercises (passive- PROM and active- AROM)
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening affected tissues
  • Balance
  • Conditioning

Therapeutic options utilized in session:

  • Laser Therapy
  • TENS Therapy (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
  • Acupuncture
  • Heat and Cold Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Cavaletti Rails
  • Balance/Wobble Boards
  • Physioballs
  • Land Treadmill
  • Massage Therapy
  • Underwater Treadmill

(just to name a few)

Each patient is specifically evaluated by Dr. Cely and an individualized therapy plan is then created.  The plan is customized to the unique needs of your pet.  Each pet also receives a specific home rehabilitation program to continue therapy while not at the clinic.

Who can benefit from Physical Therapy?

All pets can benefit from physical therapy!  Both dogs and cats and those young and old can be affected by pain or injury.  Both acute and chronic injuries can greatly benefit from physical therapy!

Some examples of conditions that would likely benefit from therapy are as follows:

  • Post-surgical patients
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle, tendon, or ligament strain or sprain
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Back injuries
  • IVDD (intervertebral disc disease)
  • Spondylosis (spinal arthritis)
  • Fractures
  • Cranial ligament (ACL) ruptures or tears
  • Amputation
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation (knee cap moves out of place)
  • Peripheral nerve injuries
  • Fibrocartilagenous embolism (FCE)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (spinal cord condition)
  • Vestibular disorder
  • Recent orthopedic surgeries
  • Overweight “big boned disease” 🙂
  • THESE ARE JUST TO NAME A FEW!  This is a limited list; many conditions can benefit from physical therapy.

Don’t forget that our feline friends can also greatly benefit from physical therapy!

Therapeutic Modalities:

Underwater Treadmill

The underwater treadmill can benefit those with neurologic or orthopedic conditions.  The buoyancy of the water will help support their bodies while providing them with a strengthening workout.  The support of the water can be helpful for those with an injury, arthritis or degenerative neurologic or musculoskeletal condition.  The warm water can also improve range of motion and flexibility, increase blood flow and help alleviate pain.  This can in turn speed a patient’s recovery time. 

Who can benefit from an underwater treadmill?

  • Fractures
  • Post-surgical patients
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Sprains/strains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL or ACL) injury
  • Sporting dogs
  • Overweight patients

This is just to name a few!

What occurs during an underwater treadmill session?

Our team members are with each patient every time they are on the treadmill.  We do provide some encouraging treats as well- who doesn’t love a lick of peanut butter!  The water temperature is at a warm therapeutic level.  The goal with the warm water is to allow pets to relax muscles, increase blood flow and flexibility and decrease pain.  The water levels very slowly brought up to the comfort level, size, and therapy level needed for each individual pet. 

The treadmill allows the physical therapy team to control how much weight a patient will bear based on the amount of water that is put in the treadmill.  They also will control how fast they move.  The treadmill allows them to flex and extend their limbs with each step of the treadmill, the water creates resistance.  This combination creates a complete workout.  Session times will vary based on the patient’s needs and their physical abilities. 

What is the purpose of the jets and incline?

The jets and incline can help increase the resistance of the workout.

Massage Therapy

You may also consider a therapeutic massage for your pet.  Dr. Cely offers 3 different types of massage, depending on your goal.

Massage therapy is meant to help relieve stress and relax muscles in a patient.  With specific massage techniques, muscles spasms, aches, and pains are reduced.  As a result range of motion and circulation are improved.

Relaxing Massage  (15 MIN) or (30 MIN)

Dr. Cely utilizes effleurage (a form of massage that involves the palm of your hand creating a circular motion), light wringing and circular massage techniques.

Regular massage maintains a dog’s general well-being and can provide early detection of health changes.

Diagnostic Massage  (20-30 MIN)

By running her hands and fingertips over areas to feel for tenderness, swelling or other abnormalities, Dr. Cely scans for lumps, sores, swellings or reactions such as snapping, flinching or crying out. This routine can be utilized in conjunction with a relaxing massage, allowing for a release of endorphins (natural healing hormones) promoting a feeling of contentment and comfort that can extend well into the day and evening.

Sports Massage  (15 MIN)

The goal of this massage is to invigorate muscles, increase blood flow and prepare the body for strenuous activity (agility, swimming or long runs).

Canine athletes are better prepared for and recover more quickly afterward when massage is a regular component of the training program. Massage helps prepare dogs mentally and physically for the event and reduces the chance of injury. Massage also comforts tired muscles and reduces the potential for cramping and post-exercise soreness.

Land Treadmill

The land treadmill helps improve how your pet walks.  It will force them to weight bear and balance on all four of their legs.  The goal is to improve balance, coordination and normalize how they walk.  As they stride with the speed of the treadmill, their muscles are flexing and extending more than they would if they were walking on their own.


Physioballs can help to improve balance and coordination.  This is commonly used in active range of motion therapy. 


Cavaletti poles and cones challenge the range of motion and proprioception or awareness of their body position.  When they cross over each pole they need to lift a leg.  This requires balance, awareness of what their feet and bodies are doing and the ability to shift their weight. 

Balance/Wobble Board

The balance/wobble board also challenges balance and proprioception or awareness of their body position.  When a pet stands on the rocker board it still rocks from side to side.  They must try to resist the movement and maintain their balance. 

Heat and Cold Therapy

Cold therapy can help reduce pain, swelling and muscle spasms. 

Heat therapy can provide pain relief to the area of concern.  It will also decrease muscle spasms, stiffness and increase muscle elasticity and blood flow. 

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

Electrotherapy can be used for reduction of pain and inflammation, wound healing, muscle re-education, and muscle atrophy and strengthening.  TENS is non-painful, non-invasive electrical currents.  The TENS unit delivers a current to the patient through electrodes, which are placed on the skin.  The TENS then stimulates the nerves with an electrical impulse.  During the stimulation it causes the muscles to strengthen and be re-educated.  It also has pain relieving capabilities. 

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy can help reduce inflammation and pain.  It will also help speed healing time. 

Laser therapy uses light to go deep into your tissues and work on your body on a cellular level (yes, we are talking mitochondria… cell biology coming back to you?).  All dogs, cats and even humans have parts of their cells that produce energy, and when they are stimulated by the light from the laser it causes a change called “photo-bio-modulation”.  During that whole process, your body starts to release endorphins, stimulates injured cells to heal and also helps itself to relieve any pain sensations. 

It also causes the production of ATP.  ATP is fuel and energy needed by cells for repair and rejuvenation.  When cells have been injured they cannot make ATP, which can lead to improper, slow or no healing at all.  When using the laser, it can stimulate the cells to produce ATP again! 

All our physical therapy patients get laser therapy as part of their rehabilitation. 

To learn more about laser therapy, click here to visit our VVC webpage.

Range of Motion- Passive and Active Therapy

Range of motion exercises can be applied actively or passively. Active range of motion exercises patients performs various exercises to increase flexibility and range of motion.  With passive range of motion, a therapy team member is guiding the patient through a motion.  This can help with flexion, extension, and range of motion.  

To determine of the range of motion is improving measurements are taken, with an instrument called a goniometer, at the patients first visit and monitored throughout their sessions. 

Meet the physical therapy team!:

Licensed veterinary technician: Kara, LVT and Kristen, LVT

Assistants: Molly, Claire, Julia