Introduction to Equine Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
The main goal of physiotherapy is the restoration of movement and function. It’s characterised by clinical reasoning and the use of evidence-based practice to assess and treat patients, and to effectuate their rehabilitation. Objective parameters are used to measure progress and modify treatment if necessary. This systematic review bundled the available information concerning the history, the various definitions and the core principles of physiotherapy, as well as the transfer to animals.
Clinical reasoning is a process used by both veterinarians and physiotherapists. The difference between these two processes is the outcome: veterinarians use these techniques to obtain a pathoanatomical diagnosis, whereas PTs aim to attain a functional diagnosis. A professionally trained equine therapist must qualify as general PT prior to starting their training. This enables them to proficiently develop their manual skills, using verbal feedback of their patients to optimise effectiveness. Because many disorders in horses are influenced by the rider, the ability to assess and treat them both, makes the physiotherapist a valuable asset to a multidisciplinary team.
A good example of the interaction between equine and human PT back pain. In human physiotherapy, it has been established that decreased and delayed recruitment of stabilising muscles often plays a role in this complaint. Training the mm. multifidi helps prevent recurrence of this complaint and general neuromuscular training decreases the intensity and amount of functional disability experienced due to back pain. Recent research has shown that the same techniques can be transferred to our equine partners.
Expert opinion by Charlotte De Bruyne
Physiotherapy has become an indispensable part of sports, from amateur to professional, everyone comes in contact with this profession at some point. We view physiotherapy as an aid to enhance our performance and rehabilitate or prevent injuries caused by the increased strain we put on our bodies during physical activity. When we ride, we ask our horses to perform like real athletes, so why not treat their bodies like we treat our own?
> From: McGowan et al., Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 32 (2016) 1-12 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc.. Click here for the online summary.