Dr. Tisha Harper, a boarded veterinary orthopedic surgeon at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, joins us with her dog, Relly!  Relly has elbow dysplasia and has had surgery and rehab and illustrates the care Dr. Harper provides!

Dr. Harper oversees the Small Animal Clinic’s rehabilitation service (similar to physical therapy for people) and is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner. 
Last month, she gained a new credential: now she is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR).

Veterinarians from around the world are boarded by the ACVSMR.
To gain board certification they must complete experiences to become eligible to take the board certification examination, then pass the exam and stay current in the field.
These experts advance the state-of-the-art veterinary care in the field of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation.

Dr. Harper’s focus is small animal, mainly canine, but there is an equine specialty as well. (Our hospital has two faculty members who are boarded in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.)
This expertise is important for athletic and working animals, but also for general rehabilitation of animal patients

What’s the difference between being a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner and being boarded in veterinary sports medicine?

Certified practitioners primarily apply rehabilitation techniques to help patients.
Board-certified individuals, in addition to helping patients, also conduct research to advance knowledge in the field, for example by evaluating which therapeutic approaches have true scientific merit.
Boarded specialists also collaborate nationally and internationally with other specialists, present at scientific conferences, and deliver educational programs for veterinarians, pet owners, and professionals who deal with working or athletic dogs.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

As a board-certified surgeon, Dr. Harper works every day with pets struggling with orthopedic or neurologic disease. Like people who have had surgery, animal patients recover and return to function more quickly with rehabilitation.

Even pets with non-surgical conditions, such as arthritis, can be significantly helped and their quality of life enhanced with rehabilitation.
Society relies upon therapy dogs and working dogs (like police dogs) to perform their jobs. Rehab allows these animals to return to work after injury so people don’t have to invest in training a new animal to replace them.