The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

REPAIR centre offers cutting edge services

The Royal (Dick) Edinburgh Physiotherapy Assessment & Intensive Rehabilitation (REPAIR) Centre offers cutting edge services, including hydrotherapy and sensory testing alongside traditional physiotherapy treatments.

Located within the Hospital for Small Animals, the REPAIR centre optimises patient rehabilitation following illness or injury through the use of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and rigorous evaluation of treatment response.

The centre works in conjunction with specialists in orthopaedics, neurology and anaesthesia, in addition to our colleagues in nutrition and internal medicine to ensure that all available options are made available to our patients.

Not only can we support those patients already in the hospital but we also accept patients referred by vets from external practices. A referral from the primary vet is essential to ensure that the physiotherapist can plan a programme directly suited to the patient's needs. 



One of the centre’s early clients was Calvin, a five year-old Staffordshire bull terrier cross, who became paralysed after running around in the garden. Clinicians suspected a sudden blockage of the blood vessels supplying the spinal cord to be responsible, a condition called fibrocartilaginous embolism, similar to a stroke seen in people. As part of his treatment at the Hospital for Small Animals, he was referred to the REPAIR clinic, which could offer cutting edge services, including hydrotherapy and sensory testing alongside traditional physiotherapy treatments.

Hydrotherapy takes place in an underwater treadmill housed in a glass tank. It has a walk-through design and is slowly filled with water until the animals’ legs are submerged. Water may be used to support some of the pets’ bodyweight to facilitate movement, or to provide resistance to help promote strength and encourage muscle development. Lifejackets are worn at all times to ensure safety.

At first, Calvin was afraid of water and his owner feared he would not tolerate hydrotherapy. Working with a specialist team, Calvin was gradually introduced to the tank and was soon plodding away on the underwater treadmill. At his last appointment, Calvin was walking unaided.

Calvin’s owner Joanna is delighted with his progress. She said: “I can't thank the Vet School enough for all the hard work and care they have put into helping Calvin get better. The recovery he has made over the last few months is incredible. He's pushed himself from day one with constant determination.”

Helena Carruthers, a Veterinary Physiotherapist at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “Calvin is fortunate to have an extremely dedicated owner, who has been working hard to follow bespoke daily physiotherapy plans with him at home in addition to the expert treatment he has received from us. We are thrilled with the progress Calvin has made.”

The REPAIR Centre brings together specialists in orthopaedics, neurology and anaesthesia, as well as experts in nutrition and internal medicine, to ensure a holistic approach to animals’ rehabilitation after injury or illness.

John Ryan, a specialist in Small Animal Surgery and lecturer in Small Animal Orthopaedics at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “By optimising outcomes for pets with difficulty walking, we are restoring and maintaining the quality of life for both pets and their owners.”


The REPAIR Centre