012: Inside The Emerging World Of Veterinary Sports Rehabilitation w/ Jessica Rychel


When most people think of veterinary medicine, they think of emergency surgeries or sick pets. Not many of us would immediately think of rehabilitation or sports medicine, but this is a growing field that is allowing us to help our clients and patients in new ways. Jessica Rychel is a pioneer in this field and she shared a lot of insights with us on this episode of Podcast A Vet.

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Show Notes: 

Dr. Jessica Rychel is a DVM, a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, Certified Medical Veterinary Acupuncturist, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Hospital. Oh, and she also teaches, lectures and has a family. Needless to say, she is busy, but has managed created a work/life balance that we all should take careful notes on so that we can emulate.

We get into how her injuries from a lifetime of competitive skiing has helped shape her career and how she approaches her patients, what you can expect from the education related to this field, and how collaboration and support of your fellow hospital team members - especially between surgeons and rehab - is imperative to the success of the hospital. Plus we go deep into work/life balance, family culture, and why creating the life you want both inside and out of the office is the only way you can prevent burnout and truly be happy. This episode is chock-full of tips and surprising insights and is a ton of fun!

How do you see rehab and sports medicine fitting into the veterinary space? Would you want to explore it more in-depth? Leave us a comment!

In this episode:

  • Recommendations for people who want to get into veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation
  • How to approach your relationships during the times of struggle when building your veterinary career
  • Why creating a team with the same goals such as a family culture and understanding of work/life balance is essential to success
  • Walking through the process in a referral hospital
  • How human therapies often translate to animals seamlessly
  • Why #hardstops are necessary to a healthy family and professional life
  • What the next generation of sports medicine looks like and how it is evolving


“That was ultimately the rewarding part for me, doing rehab, I didn’t want to get that burnout that comes from seeing too many patients without the rewarding part of having the relationships with them.” (24:18)   

“We were able to start really small, and in rehab and sports medicine it’s really about what you can do with your hands and your brain and the connection you make with the patient and the client.” (33:01)

“Where rehab shines as a specialty, is that we have these pain management tools that we can really help to deal with that side of an injury. So, are we going to fix a fracture with pain meds, no, but can we help get that patient through whatever they are going through, their post-op recovery or  whatever it is, because that’s where we really shine.” (35:27)

“It’s really exciting because I think sports medicine and rehab are a standalone specialty but they also just pair so well with so many other specialties and general practice that really anyone can add a rehab and sports medicine mentality to what they are doing.” (50:34)



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Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Hospital

Canine Rehab Institute

University of Tennessee Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

Certificate In Medical Acupuncture

Become Board Certified In Rehab And Sports Medicine


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John Arnold