by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

Dogs and cats receiving physical therapy at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital will get some additional relief thanks to a new ultrasound machine from a generous friend of the college. The state-of-the-art ultrasound machine is the first for the small animal rehabilitation center, which began treating patients in January 2008. As of October the same year, the rehabilitation center treated more than 50 patients.

The therapeutic ultrasound machine uses high-frequency sound waves, or ultrasound, to heat tissue more deeply and with greater therapeutic benefits. While common methods of warming muscles may only reach about three centimeters in depth, ultrasound therapy provides deep tissue relief reaching approximately five centimeters. Deeper heat relaxes tight muscles, increases range of mobility, and increases blood flow to tissues to help reduce inflammation and swelling.

The ultrasound unit also has electrical stimulation capabilities that provide two additional therapeutic benefits: neuromuscular stimulation, a passive exercise that strengthens weakened muscles due to injury and reduces muscle atrophy; and transcutaneous electrical stimulation, or TENS, that helps relieve acute and chronic pain in canine patients.

“Active exercise are best, but if it is too painful, then adding passive exercises and TENS to the treatment plan helps the animal feel more comfortable,” says Lori Lutskas, a licensed veterinary technician and WSU’s veterinary physical rehabilitation specialist.