Veterinary / Animal Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is a complementary therapy, which uses physical modalities to treat disorders. The use of physiotherapy is well established in human medicine, whereas physiotherapy for animals is a relatively new field. There are many similarities between human and veterinary physiotherapy – the main difference being animals can’t verbally describe their symptoms!
Any animal can benefit from physiotherapy but most commonly it is horses and dogs that are referred. Physiotherapy can be used to treat working, performance and companion animals.
Physiotherapists are trained to assess each patient individually, and devise a suitable treatment programme based on their findings. Despite their lack of verbal communication, animals are very good at telling us where it hurts! Veterinary / Animal physiotherapists are experts in analyzing the way an animal moves and to use their hands to seek out sore areas and changes in the body’s tissues.
Physiotherapy can be use on its own but is often most successful when used in conjunctions with veterinary treatment. Physiotherapists make their own assessment of the problem, but it is the vets job to make a diagnosis.
The Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) states that animals can only be treated with veterinary consent. So, by law, anyone treating your animal should consult your vet first and obtain his or her permission before assessing your animal. They should also obtain any relevant medical history, be aware of any medication the animal is on and follow any instructions or precautions from the vet which are specific to the condition being treated. A good therapist will communicate on a regular basis with your vet and provide them with a summary (including the outcome of their treatment) on discharge.
The main aim of physiotherapy for any patient is to optimize the natural healing processes of the body. It should be remembered that physiotherapy is not a miracle cure any it can only work with the body’s own natural healing processes. Some conditions, such as severe nerve injuries, may not be completely curable, but physiotherapy can help to maximize recovery.
The aims of physiotherapy are:
ü To optimize healing
ü Reduce pain
ü Reduce swelling
ü Reduce muscle spasm
ü Improve muscle strength / endurance and control
ü Improve flexibility and range of movement
ü Prevent secondary complications and recurrence of the problem
ü Optimise mobility, function and independence
ü Improve quality of life
ü Maximize performance in sporting animals.