Monday, March 28, 2011

Canine rehabilitation, aka anatomy review

I have a pretty cool rotation this week -- Canine Rehabilitation, or for short, "rehab." No, it's not about those dogs that just couldn't give up their fentanyl when it was time to leave CCU, or who keep sneaking their owner's tramadol. It's actually physical therapy-type stuff, but because of legal reasons, you can't use the term "physical therapy" unless you're specifically trained as a human physical therapist.

The rehab course is only offered this week and was added as an elective option at the end of last semester. This year's seniors who took the class last year made it sound really great, so a bunch of us juniors dropped whatever elective rotation we were scheduled to have this week (cardiology, for me).

The first hour or so of class is a lecture about methods of and uses for rehabilitation in veterinary patients -- everything from goniometry (measuring the angles of the joints) to girthometry (measuring the circumference of a muscle group) to active and passive range of motion to balance exercises to underwater treadmills and other hydrotherapy.

Then we get a quick "bio break" (a term I don't particularly like), followed by about 20 minutes of discussion of whatever muscle groups we're going over for the day -- yesterday was thoracic limb muscles; today was epaxial, hypaxial, thoracic, cervical, and deep pelvic muscles.

One of the fun parts is that we then have 75-90 minutes to use muscle-colored modeling clay to "build" the muscles we just discussed onto a plastic dog skeleton model. You get blue or green clay to make tendons and ligaments.

The last 60-75 minutes of class are left for actual hands-on palpation practice with actual real live dogs (owned by the students in the course) who submit to such learning opportunities as palpating bony landmarks (like the acromion, scapular spine, styloid processes, patella, ischiatic tuberosity, etc.) as well as different muscles (biceps, triceps, deltoid, pectorals, etc.).

And while I'd love to learn about some of the rehabilitation exercises I can use in the future (near-ish future!) to help my canine (and cooperative feline) patients feel better after surgery or injuries, it is just as great at this point to be having a really intensive review of bony and muscular anatomy. It's truly amazing how much you can forget (well, not "forget" so much as "lock away in a nearly inaccessible dusty corner of your brain") in the 2 years following freshman anatomy class. I'm really optimistic that this week's lectures, labs, and exercises will help make me a better senior student doctor in just 6 weeks.

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