Updated: Mar 15, 2019
On 12th October 2018 I took part in a placement day at Writtle University College, during which I was able to observe, in detail, how a Veterinary Physiotherapist (VP) works, and some of what is involved in their day to day working life. Along with my peers, I started the day at the canine unit, to watch Jade Terry undertake a full workup on two dogs, and what her plans for treatment would entail, as well as being able to observe some therapies.
The first dog that was assessed was Ollie, a 13-year-old Border Collie owned by Jade. After an initial assessment, Jade determined that the best method of treatment for the issues she had found with Ollie, would be laser therapy and the use of a Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field (PEMF) pad. She explained that before the summer he had been used as part a rehabilitation project, but since then he had had some time away from physiotherapy, so she wanted to give him a mild first session back, so as not to cause him any further issues.
Ollie receiving treatment
I found observing Jade using the laser extremely interesting, and hearing about the way it works has left me wanting to find out more about different modalities. I use cycloidal-vibration-therapy in the form of an Equissage Pulse in my work as an Equine Sports Therapist, which has demonstrated many benefits (Mackechnie-Guire et al., 2018) so this is an area I would like to expand on.
With Jade’s second dog Charlie, who had not previously had a physiotherapy session, she carried out a full assessment and concluded that due to issues that he is suffering from, he would benefit more from the use of remedial exercises rather than manual therapies. Jade also used the PEMF pad on Charlie, which helped him to relax as he was starting to get anxious. I found it extremely beneficial to see how she dealt with an apprehensive dog, as I think keeping the animal relaxed will play an important role in my work as a VP. Regarding the remedial exercises, I found it really fascinating to see the similarities and differences between canine and equine pole work, as it is so frequently used in the equine industry (Kaneps, 2016; Tabor and Williams, 2018).
Jade also began to habituate Charlie to the dry treadmill, in preparation for him starting hydrotherapy in the coming weeks. Again, this was something I found invaluable, as hydrotherapy is something I am interested in learning more about, due to such advantages found in both equine and canine fields (Nankervis, Launder, and Murray, 2017; Tranquille et al., 2017; Tranquille et al., 2018).
Charlie on the dry treadmill
The afternoon session was held at the equine unit with Robin Gill and Rhian Williams. I felt more comfortable taking part in the assessment and much more confident with my observations than during the canine session, which I think is due to having years more experience working with horses than dogs. Being able to observe two VPs making decisions on which was the best way to treat the horse in question was vital.
Rodney being assessed
I think that I took more from the canine session, due to having less experience in this area. However, I did enjoy the equine session and took a great deal of information from it, I felt that it was extremely beneficial to be able to watch such highly skilled VPs work. The whole day was such an insight into the process a VP takes to problem solve, and how having a wider range of skills enables a different approach to the way I work now, although this could be incorporated well.
Before beginning the course I always expected I would gravitate towards the equine side, which was highlighted in my approach to the placement day, and how I felt afterwards, although it has left me motivated to develop my canine skills further.
Kaneps, A. (2016). Practical Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy for the General Equine Practitioner. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, 32(1), pp.167-180.
Mackechnie-Guire, R., Mackechnie-Guire, E., Bush, R., Wyatt, R., Fisher, D., Fisher, M. and Cameron, L. (2018). A Controlled, Blinded Study Investigating the Effect That a 20-Minute Cycloidal Vibration has on Whole Horse Locomotion and Thoracolumbar Profiles. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 71, pp.84-89.
Nankervis, K., Launder, E. and Murray, R. (2017). The Use of Treadmills Within the Rehabilitation of Horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 53, pp.108-115.
Tabor, G. and Williams, J. (2018). Equine Rehabilitation: A Review of Trunk and Hind Limb Muscle Activity and Exercise Selection. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 60, pp.97-103.e3.
Tranquille, C., Nankervis, K., Walker, V., Tacey, J. and Murray, R. (2017). Current Knowledge of Equine Water Treadmill Exercise: What Can We Learn From Human and Canine Studies?. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 50, pp.76-83.
Tranquille, C., Tacey, J., Walker, V., Nankervis, K. and Murray, R. (2018). International Survey of Equine Water Treadmills—Why, When, and How?. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 69, pp.34-42.