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How-to: Passive Range of Motion Exercises

Mary Sarah Bergh DVM, MS, DACVS, DACVSMR, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Joanna Hildreth, CVT, CCRP, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine


|March 2015|Peer Reviewed|Web-Exclusive

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Passive range of motion exercises can improve function by preventing adhesions, increasing flexibility, remodeling periarticular fibrosis, and increasing tissue extensibility. The most common indications for passive range of motion include immediate post-surgery rehabilitation and supportive care for patients with neuropathies. Passive range of motion can be used to:

  • Strengthen before active weight-bearing
  • Help prevent joint contracture and soft tissue adaptive shortening
  • Maintain mobility between soft tissue layers
  • Reduce pain
  • Enhance blood and lymphatic flow
  • Improve synovial fluid production and diffusion


Dr. Bergh is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and the Director of the Canine Rehabilitation Center at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) and the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR).  She attended veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin, completed an internship University of Pennsylvania and a residency in small animal surgery at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her clinical and research interests include rehabilitation therapy, joint replacement, arthroscopy, treatments for cranial cruciate ligament disease, and sporting injuries. Joanna is the lead veterinary technician at the Canine Rehabilitation Center at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has been working in the Canine Rehabilitation area since 1999 and earned the certificate of a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee’s certificate training program in 2005. She enjoys all aspects of rehabilitation therapy, especially seeing the clinical improvement in her patients.


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