Veterinary Physiotherapy- A Healing Touch for Animals
Till date we have been well versed with the term ‘physiotherapy’. We humans suffer with joint pains, fractures, neurological problems, cardiovascular and respiratory infections and for many of these clinical disorders, along with medications we do require musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular physiotherapy respectively to cure us. But what about animals? These days even animals are enjoying privileges like having a spa for pets, restaurants which serve pet food, different types of clothing for pets and much more. Won’t they require an equally important healthcare as well?
Have you heard animal rehabilitation before?
Why do we need Veterinary Physiotherapy?
Just like humans, animals too suffer from joints and bone diseases like arthritis, fractures, osteoporosis. Studies have proven that dogs and cats are prone to diabetes and obesity and suffer from their complications as well. Also similar to humans, when an animal goes through a spinal cord injury, they too get paralysis of their hind limbs.
History of Veterinary Physiotherapy
Mr. Charles Strong, a physiotherapist in London in 1939 had applied a faradic current to his horses (ponies specifically) to observe the effect on their healing. Faradic current is used for stimulation of our muscles. And to his wonder it worked in stimulation of horse muscles too. Henceforth, faradic current was used for muscles of racing horses which used to get injured during an horse-race event.
Eventually, mobilization and manipulation of joints was performed in animals by veterinary surgeons residing in different parts of the world and it showed amazing results for stiffness and pain of their joints and muscles respectively. Studies and researches are still being performed whether the same equipments and techniques as used in human physiotherapy, work for animals as well or no. Till date ultrasound, interferential currents, nerve stimulations have been found useful in healing.
Current Scenario of Veterinary Physiotherapy treatment?
These days in India dogs, cats, horses are highly being treated with physiotherapy techniques specially in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi etc. Also, cattle, rabbits, sanctuary wild animals like tigers, lions, leopards have shown results in countries outside India. Veterinary doctors and physiotherapists are still performing researches for animal treatment. There are many certification courses in Canada, USA, Australia, UK etc. which teach rehabilitation in animals. In India, such degree/certification courses shall soon be implicated.
What kind of physiotherapy treatment is given to animals?
You all would be jaw-dropped to know that just like humans, animals respond amazing to physiotherapy treatment! Latest trends in animal physiotherapy includes-
- Ultrasound therapy- This is a deep heating modality that can be used to healing, for pain, spasm of soft tissues.
- Treadmill walking- Many hind limb paralyzed cats and dogs are made to do treadmill walking with harness to gain weight bearing over their limbs. This in turn enhances muscle recruitment and proprioception. The same principle used here as used in human physiotherapy.
- Gymball, Bosu training- This does seem difficult as we might feel that how can animals undergo such an intensive balance training. But again they too have different kinds of balance strategies as humans. When animals are injured or paralyzed these strategies do get affected. By unstable surfaces like gymball and bosu, their balance can be enhanced.
- Sensory integration- The paws of all animals possess special sensory receptors which help them recognize textures and grip on various surfaces When these paws lose their sensations due to spinal cord or nerve issues, different textured boards can be used for improving sensations.
- Hydrotherapy- This is becoming one of the most trending therapy for animals. There is special course for veterinary hydrotherapy as well. Animals once comfortable with water, feel relaxed and enjoy the same. Hydrotherapy has shown to have fabulous effects!
- Manual Therapy- In human physiotherapy there are multiple techniques of manual therapy itself. However, in animals innovations of such different techniques are still an ongoing procedure. Massage, joint mobilizations, accessory joint glides help recover stiff joints, muscle pains.
Animals should undergo therapy which is their psychology friendly
Some tips for basic psychological aspects
There are different books which cover animal psychology in detail. But some basic psychological aspects should be taken into consideration while treating animals.
- Build a rapport with animals when seeing them for the first time. Observe their behaviour around you.
- Have their owner or a person with whom they are more comfortable.
- After a particular movement or exercise give them a treat so that they know that this is the movement they are supposed to do to get a treat.
- Make it more fun like having their favourite stuffed toys around to make them comfortable.
Understanding an animal psychology while treating them is similar to understanding a small kid’s psychology. The way we be patient with small kids, you need to be even more patient with animals.
Many people around the globe are now being aware of this newly developed field. Yet some people still do feel that what is the need of physiotherapy in animals. There are veterinary doctors already. But just like we have different medical fields in humans, there is a need for such fields in veterinary as well so as to distribute the animal healthcare to make it more efficient. We humans need to understand that animals have served us in their own way as a means of transport, to carry goods from one place to another, for agriculture purposes and most importantly being a friend to man. So somewhere we can do our own part by doing these things for them which are in ojur hands.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Natasha Tungare