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Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
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Source: Walter Renberg, 785-532-4131,
News release prepared by: Sara Shellenberger, 785-532-6415,

Monday, February 26, 2007


MANHATTAN -- Dogs and cats may find themselves under water for rehabilitation at Kansas State University's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Introduced to K-State's veterinary program in spring 2006, underwater rehabilitation treatment uses a combination of swimming, underwater exercises and an underwater treadmill to improve range of motion or coordination for small animals.

"The idea behind underwater rehabilitation treatment stems from the human field of aqua therapy," said Dr. Walter Renberg, associate professor of clinical sciences at K-State. "Rehabilitation is as important for animals just as it is for people."

While patients of underwater rehabilitation treatment can suffer from a variety of diseases, most come with two general needs, according to Renberg.

"The bulk of our patients are usually dogs with orthopedic or neurologic conditions," he said. "Patients may suffer from a myriad of diseases, but most utilize underwater treatment to strengthen muscles, improve coordination or to increase/improve range of motion in joints."

Though fairly new to the veterinary profession, underwater rehabilitation has quickly grown in popularity, Renberg said.

"Underwater rehabilitation treatment was introduced to the profession about five years ago," he said. "It is still a growing area of interest for many professionals within veterinary medicine because it has been quite effective."

While underwater rehabilitation is an exciting opportunity for small animals in need of treatment, Renberg cautions pet owners to remember it is only part of the rehabilitation process.

"It's all about balance. There is certainly a high degree of usefulness to underwater rehabilitation, but it is not a cure-all treatment," Renberg said. "Equally important are things such as stretching, massage and exercise -- including things done here at K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and exercises done at home."

Additional rehabilitation treatments available at K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital include therapeutic ultrasound, neurological muscle stimulation and a dry treadmill. Home exercises such as walking up and down the stairs can also contribute to your pet's continued rehabilitation, Renberg said.

Almost one year after K-State's underwater treatment debut, Renberg said he is glad K-State took the plunge.

"We as a university need to be providing this service," Renberg said. "Underwater treatment provides an excellent opportunity for small animals to get the rehabilitation they need."

For more information about underwater rehabilitation, contact K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at 785-532-5690. Both medically referred patients and local patients are accepted for medical treatment. Prices vary with condition and duration of treatment, but complete rehabilitation treatment for several weeks for an average dog is estimated at about $300.