Animal Physiotherapy

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ANIMAL PHYSIOTHERAPY    

 

The field of animal health care is continually expanding as animal owners are demanding more varied health care options.

 

Many pet owners  participate in sports such as dog agility, flyball, dancing and obedience with their dogs, and these dogs often require alternative therapy care that an animal physiotherapist is able to provide.

Horses may require physiotherapy from injuries sustained during racing events, dressage and reining.

 

  1. How can animal physiotherapists help your pet?
  2. What types of injuries and conditions can be treated
  3. What types of treatments are available?
  4. What animals might an animal physiotherapist treat?
  5. What is acupuncture and dry needling?
  6. How does a person qualify to practise as an Animal Physiotherapist in South Africa?
  7. Where will you find an Animal Therapist?

 

1. How can animal physiotherapists help your pet?


Animal Physiotherapy is a field of physiotherapy. Physiotherapists play a key role assisting animals with physical challenges and problems with mobility. A physiotherapist is a qualified expert in the fields movement and exercise and can help animals in much the same way as physios help humans. Injuries or post-surgery conditions are assessed, treated and animal patients undergo rehab. This can include manual manipulation, electrotherapy and rehabilitation exercises.

Physiotherapy can also be used for working or competition animals by helping them to reach their full physical potential and to avoid injury.

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2. What types of injuries and conditions can be treated?


Animal physiotherapists are able to treat:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Post operative rehabilitation
  • Degenerative conditions such as arthritis - ease pain in arthritic and diseased joints and slow down further degeneration
  • Sore/bruised muscles
  • Muscle spasms, strain, tightness and muscle atrophy
  • Ruptured tendons and ligaments
  • Sacroiliac injury
  • Cruciate ligament rupture
  • Optimise repair of fractures
  • Improving and maintaining range of movement and muscle tone 

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3. What types of treatments are available?


Animal physiotherapists offer a wide range of treatment. This can include massage, strapping, hydrotherapy, soft tissue and joint mobilization and manipulation, myofascial release and trigger point release.

Electrotherapy such as laser, ultrasound, magnetotherapy and electrical muscle stimulation can be used together with manual therapy.

Many animals require specific exercises to complete their rehabilitation - the physio will draw up an appropriate exercise program. Physiotherapists can also give advice on adaptations to your animals' environment that will help them perform tasks more easily. This can be especially helpful for older animals or for those who have recently had surgery.

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4. What animals might an animal physiotherapist treat?


The animals most commonly treated are horses and dogs. Treatment is not limited to the former and can include treatment of cows, snakes, birds, camels, zebra, cheetahs, lions and elephants!

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5. What is acupuncture and dry needling?


Acupuncture can be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Acupuncture points are found mostly along meridian lines. These lines represent organs of the body and have their origins in ancient Chinese medical history. Acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes.

Dry needling is a form of physical therapy used to treat musculoskeletal pain. Solid filament needles are inserted into the skin at trigger points in a muscle, causing it to twitch and release. This greatly improves muscle power and helps to reduce local muscle pain.

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6. How does a person qualify to practise as an Animal Physiotherapist in South Africa?


A four-year honours degree in Physiotherapy from a recognised university in South Africa is required. Physiotherapists need to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)and South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP). A minimum of two years clinical human experience is necessary. South Africa was one of the first countries to establish an official special interest group of qualified physiotherapists who were interested in treating animals, the Animal Physiotherapy Group of South Africa (APGSA).

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7. Where will you find an Animal Therapist?


Animal Physiotherapy is more diverse than people imagine. Animal Physiotherapists may be employed at large veterinary practices, open their own practice and animal sports clinics.

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