Veterinary Physiotherapy provides treatment modalities and rehabilitation as an adjunct to conventional veterinary treatment.
Physiotherapy in the veterinary field
Physiotherapy in the veterinary field is an expanding profession, but may still be relatively unknown in some regions of the country, particularly where small animals are concerned. It is increasingly common for bigger practices, such as second referral centres or veterinary hospitals to use physios as part of the team. In the horse world, it is quite common for owners to now request their vet’s permission to allow physiotherapy on their horses, mostly to ease back pain or enhance performance.
Chartered Physiotherapists always work with veterinary permission and alongside the animal’s conventional veterinary treatment. The aim of physio is to achieve the best possible outcome for an animal by working closely with the animal’s vet.
Find out more information on how an ACPAT-registered Vet Physio is trained to a high level.
How physio can aid small animal practice
Early physio (from day 1) is very gentle, patient-centred care which aids the animal’s vet in ensuring that optimal healing, recuperation and rehabilitation takes place; it is applicable following soft tissue injury/ fracture/ pre- or post-operatively (including orthopaedic and neurological surgeries) and can aid the patient in the following ways:
- helps to encourage graduated weight-bearing through a limb;
- helps manage pain alongside medications;
- aids relaxation and coping strategies of the patient;
- helps reduce the likelihood of contractures and compensatory
- helps owner compliance of vet’s instructions and increases their understanding of how to manage an animal with limited mobility and/or pain;
- helps owners to create a safe environment within their home while the animal is recovering;
- helps to limit inflammation and encourage healing of a new injury/surgery;
- can spot early signs of secondary complications such as infection, fracture disease etc. for quick referral back to the animal’s vet;
- uses exercises to reduce disuse atrophy and to regain proprioception.
Physiotherapy at later stages helps to:
- increase use of a limb,
- strengthen muscle,
- increase/ maintain joint range of movement,
- provide individual graduated exercise/ rehabilitation programmes to return the animal to optimal function,
- provide continued proprioceptive input.
Other areas in which physio can aid veterinary treatment includes:
- the management of animals with degenerative joint disease and other chronic or lifelong conditions.
- helping to increase the quality of life for the elderly patient.
- the provision of personalised exercise programmes, alongside owner education, in order to aid weight loss of overweight animals.
If you have any queries concerning any of the above, or if you are wondering if physiotherapy might be an option for a patient of yours, then please contact me for further information.
Physiotherapy for equines
Often physiotherapy in equines involves treatment of back pain and relief of compensatory problems related to problems such as lameness, incorrect saddlery or farriery. Other conditions or problems for which physio is beneficial include:
- treatment of competition horses, both pre- and post-performance or following injury.
- tendon injuries, both acute and chronic – to decrease the inflammation stage and to increase healing potential.
- soft tissue injuries.
- aids management of horses on prolonged box rest and helps to prevent secondary problems occurring.
- provides graded, individualised, exercise programmes following injury or episodes out of work to ensure safe and effective return to normal exercise levels.
If you have any equine patients that you feel may benefit from physiotherapy or you have any questions regarding how physio may help, please do not hesitate to contact me.