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Introducing…Our Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Service!


Today’s instalment is a little different, as The Ralph Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Service has been running for two years already – in a mobile capacity. So when we open our doors, our mobile service will settle in to its new home at the hospital, and will offer everything it has done in the past…and much, much more!

Physiotherapy is all about boosting quality of life. Using different manual treatments and movements, it aims to restore movement and function to the highest attainable level for that particular individual. This covers a broad range of scenarios arising from illness, injury and disability. For example supporting a patient to regain movement after an accident, or managing a patient with a chronic condition such as osteoarthritis.

Physiotherapy can help a wide variety of dogs and cats, including for example:

  • Improving mobility and reducing discomfort in animals with long-term joint disorders
  • Speeding recovery following surgery and other traumatic events (rehabilitation)
  • Preparing animals for surgical procedures (prehabilitation)
  • Maintaining muscle mass and joint mobility in recumbent patients
  • Helping animals suffering from breathing and heart conditions
  • Maintaining and improving performance in working dogs and athletes

The most common conditions we treat tend to be orthopaedic (bone-related) or neurological (nerve-related) by origin. This includes conditions like osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc (spinal, back) disease (both conservative and post-operative management), cranial cruciate ligament disease (in the knee), and degenerative myelopathy, amongst others.

At The Ralph, our Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Service will be available to both in- and out-patients. This means we will care for both those animals staying with us, for example after having had an operation, as well as those patients who pop in specifically for physiotherapy and rehabilitation appointments. The service will work closely with our other departments, as we deliver the holistic and compassionate care each and every patient deserves.

As well as physical assessments and exercises, our service will provide advice on lifestyle, activity and exercise, both for prevention of problems and to rehabilitate existing ones. We have got a hugely experienced team, and so there is lots we can all learn from them.

Our Physiotherapy Treatment Room is equipped with a variety of tools as well as a ceiling-mounted hoist and laser therapy. Next door, our Hydrotherapy Room contains an underwater treadmill with a ceiling-mounted hoist. We are able to provide physical therapy to patients of all shapes and sizes.

An underwater treadmill is particularly beneficial for patients who are limited with land-based exercise. Performing exercise in water provides patients with buoyancy and support increasing their mobility.  Our underwater treadmill hasan extra-long platform so even the tallest and biggest dogs will benefit. Our ceiling-mounted hoists will support patients who are unable to bear their own weight properly so they can also benefit from both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.


Another tool in the physiotherapy toolbox is electrotherapy. This is a useful adjunct to physiotherapy and can aid healing and provide pain relief. Medical laser therapy is a form of electrotherapy which uses light (delivered as a single focused beam or as a set of pulsing beams) to transmit energy into tissues and have a biological effect. Laser therapy may be used for example in some patients with joint, muscle, ligament or tendon problems; it may also be applied in the treatment of wounds and skin disorders. Advancements in technology have made delivering the treatment quick, efficient and safe. At The Ralph the type of electrotherapy we use is called LASER (an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). LASER is offered as part of a patient’s treatment plan once a thorough assessment has taken place.

So that’s all about the service, now let’s meet Kim who is our Head of Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation.

Making it all possible…

Kim Sheader


Kim has been a Chartered Physiotherapist since 2000. Her undergraduate degree was specific to humans and she spent approximately 10 years working with human patients. In particular Kim focused on hospital inpatients and on providing respiratory physiotherapy.

Kim subsequently undertook a Post Graduate Diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy at the Royal Veterinary College, London. Since 2012 she has worked as a Veterinary Physiotherapist at a small animal referral hospital in the south east of England as well as providing a mobile physiotherapy service to veterinary practices and pet carers. Kim has been leading The Ralph Mobile Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Service for the past two years.

Kim is experienced in use of LASER therapy and is also proficient in making splints and other supports for dogs and cats. She has been the Chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) since February 2015 and is an active clinical educator.

As Head of the service, Kim will be hands-on treating a variety of patients whilst also developing care pathways to integrate physiotherapy within the other areas of the hospital. Kim also hopes to undertake research that contributes to the ongoing improvement of small animal physiotherapy care, both at The Ralph and beyond.

Kim lives with her 17 year old cat, Jess, who greets Kim at the front door every time she arrives home and gets very miffed when Kim doesn’t fit in with her routine!

Thanks for taking the time to read about our physiotherapy and rehabilitation service, and for getting to know Kim.  Stay tuned for our next instalment as we continue our tour around the hospital.

Take care,

The Ralph Team


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