Physiotherapy is the treatment of pathologies or traumas through the use of forces of natural origin, such as heat, cold, massage, water, therapeutic exercise, light, electricity and magnetic forces. (Downer A.H, Spears V.L).
Physiotherapy has ancient origins, it is believed that the first precursors of physiotherapy were the doctors of antiquity such as Hippocrates and Galen that starting from 480 A. C proposed treatments such as massage, techniques of manual therapy and hydrotherapy to patients.
The first documented origins of the current Physiotherapy as we today refer to the Swedish Per Henrik who founded in 1813 the “Royal Central Institute of Gymnastic” (RCIG) for massages, manipulations and exercises
Veterinary physiotherapy has only recently been applied and has developed in parallel with sports animal medicine; the state where the veterinary physiotherapy has had the greatest development is certainly the Great Britain, in fact since the first post-war period it was applied to the sporting horse and the racing greyhound and has continued to develop over the years thanks to the importance that these animals play beautiful culture island.
In 1985 the ACPAT (Association of Chartered Physiotherapist in Animal Therapy) was born, which among the various tasks holds and updates the register of animal physiotherapists registered in the order, also in South Africa and in Canada were born associations modeled on the mold of the English one , respectively the SAAPAT) South African Association of Fhysiotherapist in animal Theraphy) and the CHAP (Canadian Horse and Animal Phisical Therapists Association).
In the United States the situation is still not well defined: there is a federal association, the APT (Animal Physical Therapists Special Intrested Group), section of the APTA (American Physical Therapist Association)
Objectives of veterinary physiotherapy
Veterinary physiotherapy follows the same principles applied in human medicine; the main objective is to bring the patient back to the optimal clinical conditions as quickly as possible, shortening the time of hospitalization, accelerating the healing processes of the injured tissues, preventing the complications from disuse and promoting the achievement and maintenance of a quality of life better.
Physiotherapy usually does not directly treat the pathology, a task that belongs respectively to medicine and surgery, but focuses on the symptoms that the disease has caused and any complications that derive from it. Physiotherapeutic techniques are used for the treatment of traumas or pathologies that impede the functionality of the locomotor system: they therefore find their greatest use in the motor rehabilitation of neurological and orthopedic patients both in preparation for surgery and in the period following the intervention at the order to alleviate pain, accelerate healing processes and reduce the risk of disuse complications. But physiotherapy, with a general view of patient well-being, has always the objective of recovering a balance of just physical condition, which is also applied in other fields such as: management of elderly and obese patients, training and preparation of working dogs to prevent diseases or accidents related to their activities, and in general “fitness” of pets.
The final objectives can be summarized in:
- Relieve pain
- Stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Promote the reabsorption of an edema
- Promote muscle relaxation
- Avoid or resolve contractures
- Improve function and quality of movement
- Limit the disuse atrophy
- To encourage the propioceptive functional rehabilitation
- Reach an optimal range of motion
- Improve circulatory cardio capacity
- Improve and prolong the quality of life.
Veterinary disorders that can be treated with animal physiotherapy
Physiotherapeutic techniques can be applied for the prevention and treatment of numerous veterinary pathologies both before and after rehabilitation surgery, including:
- Hernias of the intervertebral disc
- Traumas, fractures and dislocations of the limbs and spinal column (traumatized patients)
- Wobbler syndrome
- Dysplastic hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia (ulnar radio incongruity, fragmentation of the medial coronoid process of the ulna, lack of union of the angious process)
- Dysplasia of the hip that if not treated during the growth period of the dog, often can lead to arthritis consequences that in adult or elderly patients.
- Anterior cruciate ligament rupture (associated or not at the meniscal level)
- Patella luxation
- Aseptic necrosis of the head of the femur (toy or small breed dogs)
- Injury of the peripheral nerve
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Fibrocartilaginous medullary embolism
- Traumas and muscle strains
- Ligamentous distensions
- Tendon disorders
Physiotherapy, it is important to underline, can not replace in any way the medical treatments applied to the aforementioned pathologies, but must be flanked by targeted pharmacological treatments.
Techniques used in animal physiotherapy
Veterinary physiotherapy, uses instrumental techniques, manual techniques and active kinesitherapy.
Instrumental techniques: they are applied through various tools with which the physical strength that the therapist uses to obtain the biological effect is generated and conveyed. The most commonly used physical forces are:
thermal energy (thermotherapy for direct application of hot and cold)
electric energy (electrotherapy, electrostimulation, iontophoresis) Mechanics of sound waves (ultrasound and ionophoresis) and magnetic (magnetotherapy) and electromagnetic energy (diathermy, infrared phototherapy, laser therapy)
Manual techniques: They are applied without the use of special tools, but with the simple use of the hands of the therapist and include all forms of massage and passive gymnastics.
Chinese active therapy: groups rehabilitation techniques that take place with the active muscular participation of the patient: therapeutic exercises, propyoceptive gymnastics, assisted swimming, assisted walking on treadmills, hydrokinesis therapy on the underwater water treadmill.