Dr. Ilana Strubel of A Well Adjusted Pet earned her DVM at the University of Illinois and has been in general practice since 1995. She is currently in general practice with a special interest in Integrative Medicine.
Dr. Strubel completed training in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy/Chiropractic at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in 2011 focusing on both functional neurology and chiropractic adjustments. She is a certified member of the College of Animal Chiropractors, is certified in Animal Acupressure through the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) through Canine Rehabilitation Institute, and has training in Sports Medicine and Conditioning. She also participated in the Donald G. Low-CVMA Practitioner Fellowship with the UC Davis Behavior Service in 2005, and is currently a member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
How did you hear about the Loop?
I first heard about the Assisi Loop at my canine rehab therapy training through the Canine Rehab Institute. Dr. Laurie McCauley was one of my instructors and I interned with her for a day. She talked about it in class.
I really first started thinking about it when I spent my day interning with her at TOPS in Illinois. [Dr. McCauley] was telling me her husband's success with his knee - he started using the Loop and the pain relief was so profound that he held off on surgery, and then never ended up rescheduling. That was helpful to hear. I also spoke with another person out here in California about it, a vet tech by the name of Joni Kamlet [RVT, CCRA] was working in Walnut Creek at the Canine Rehab Center with Dr. Erin Troy. They send home Assisi Loops quite often with clients. That's when I learned I could order them and stock them and send them home with people in addition to the treatment at the clinic.
Did you have to be sold on it?
It was confusing, because I'm a veterinarian and I like to understand how it works. If I can understand how it works then I can explain it to my clients. If a client says, 'What is it going to do for my dog?' and I say 'I don't know, but it helps!' - that's not going to work.
How do you get around that problem?
I had to ask a little more, read a little more... I wanted to understand it, because if I understand it and I believe in it, then I can explain it to my clients with confidence and feel like it's based in science. It's still confusing, I'm still trying to grasp how to word it for a layperson in one or two sentences.
I boil it down to my understanding, which is that it stimulates many of the body's own healing pathways through many different methods. I liken it to the bone stimulator that a lot of podiatrists use, because people are familiar with that for foot surgeries. But I want to feel like I'm more comfortable explaining, in detail, the science behind it to my colleagues as well... I'd like to be more fluent in how it works.
But I have a lot of clients who are open to trying it, because they're really looking for alternative methods, and they're really seeing results.
What types of cases do you recommend the Loop for?
Whenever I have acute inflammation or pain, for sure. So I've used it with acute cruciate rupture or acute joint swelling from tendinitis, a case that has chronic tendinitis from the patella ligament, back pain, neck pain, sometimes chronic osteoarthritis cases.
Any cases that particularly stand out?
One of my clients has a bilateral ACL rupture, and it's an older dog - one ruptured in July of last year and one ruptured in January. She was barely able to walk. I had her in stifle braces for support, but she was in so much pain from the inflammation that her leg was actually looking swollen. The owner started using the Loop, and hurt her back in the process of helping her dog in and out of the house, so she started using it on her back as well - and she reported to me on follow-up that she was remarkably improved herself, and the dog was too.
At the same time, I wasn't just using the Loop as a full treatment. There were other things we added on. But it was the owner's opinion that her back was actually feeling better - adding on the Loop was the only new thing she did.
Is there a particular combination of treatments that you find works well?
I use a combination of nutritional supplements and herbal anti-inflammatories. If it's really acute or severe, I combine it with other medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories - Adequan, Gabapentin, Tramadol, lower doses combined with the Loop, and combined sometimes with laser. The problem with laser therapy is that many of my clients are not able to come into the clinic two to three times a week for the treatment and it's cost-prohibitive for me to have to send a vet tech out three times a week. What we'll do is treat once or twice a week when I see them if they're coming in for rehab or hydrotherapy, and I send them home with the Loop so they can use the Loop four times a day. They like having something to do at home as well when their dog is painful.
I sent home a dog recently with neck pain, a Wobblers Weimeraner, who started having recent yelping episodes and progressive neurological deficits. I'm hoping the Loop will help him, along with a more traditional [treatment regimen]. I use it all in combo! And I have different clients with different desires. Some clients don't want to put their dog on any non-steroidal because they don't believe in drugs or the dog doesn't do well - they get GI issues or liver issues. In most cases, those owners are much more open to the Loop and to laser combined with herbal [treatments].
Do you find your clients are open to the Loop?
It depends on the client. Some clients come to me because they want recommendations for off-the-beaten-path [treatments]. I'm an integrative, alternative therapy practitioner so they're coming to me for those ideas. I have had a few people balk a little bit at the cost and have said, 'Well, let me hold off on it and try other things first, and then we can add that if it's not getting better.'
If you had to explain to someone why you like the Loop, what would you say?
The main reasons are that you can use it frequently as a pain modality. You can send someone home with it so they can treat in-between appointments. Most animals seem to really enjoy it and tolerate it and relax... Most animals that I've treated haven't even noticed it.
How will you be talking about the Loop at the SFVMA meeting on June 18, 2015?
I'm speaking on rehab in general, [and I'll talk about] how I used pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and list the ways I use it. Of course, Assisi will be there with the other sponsors with literature and materials. What I'm planning to do is talk about the different types of cases I see in general, like what cases could benefit from rehab. I'll talk about osteoarthritis and talk about a few different cases of mine, and talk about how I treated them. Then I'll talk a little about neuro cases, as well as orthopedic surgery cases. My plan is to give a little bit of background on the types of modalities I'm using, then present a few cases and present how I use them; therapeutic exercise, water therapy, nutritional supplements, orthotic braces and support devices, laser and magnetic field therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic.
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