Dip A Phys, MIAAT,
BSc hons Animal Science.
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
07971 431884

While touch and feel are vital within therapy, the advancement of animal physiotherapy has given us powerful tools such as
phototherapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, electrical stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound to compliment the manual treatments.


Manual Techniques

Training of various massage, stretching and range of movement exercises are used alongside the above treatments and rehabilitation programmes
to ensure the animal maintains or returns to its optimum health.

Muscle elasticity is fundamental in the movement of horses no matter what their discipline as it allows for more controlled , quick movements and helps to prevent muscle pulls and tears. Assessment of flexion and extension of all muscle groups will indicate where muscular improvement and development is needed and provide information on where specific training can re-educate the lacking muscle groups and promote a balanced gait.




Phototherapy is used for the treatment of wounds. The machine used emits Ultra-violet and Infra-red rays which have differing effects on the wounds.

Blue Light therapy
This form of therapy makes the treatment area un-inhabitable to bacteria therefore preventing the development of infections which can lead to further problems.

    By treating surgical or wound or infection sites with ultraviolet therapy it acts on;
  • superficial bacteria
  • skin conditions
  • reducing suture breakdown
  • assisting acceptance of skin grafts
  • treating chronic low grade infections such as mud fever, granular licks, rain scald etc.
  Red Light therapy
This form of therapy is used in the treatment of wounds and muscular tension specifically those at the chronic stages, and works by
  • encouraging the release of endorphins by applying over acupuncture points
  • prepares muscle for manual techniques
  • optimises epithelial growth
  • reduces scar tissue
  • prevention of proud flesh
  • increases vaso-dilation
  • accelerates collagen synthesis

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Day 42
Star Eastwood, 10 year old thoroughbred gelding.
Injury believed to have been caused by impailing himself on a fence post resulting in deep muscular trauma and swelling. Infrared phototherapy was started 7 days post injury and continued until the margins of the would were closed, strong and unlikely to breakdown.
Snowy Dovey is a 3 year old terrier cross who was attached by another dog whilst out walking. Snowy picked up by her back end by the dogs teeth and shaken vigourously. After surgery Snowy received intensive phototherapy using the red light laser for 23 days.

Red light therapy is also very effective in the treatment of wounds that have failed to heal by first intention.


Pulsed Electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)

Electrical currents applied externally encourages skin wounds and bone fractures to heal more efficiently and with less change of reoccurrence of injury. This method has multiple frequency settings, which enables the successful treatment of physical and emotional pain.

    Treatment includes:
  • Inflammation (both chronic and acute), particularly effective at reducing chronic inflammation in muscles, tendons and ligaments, joints and skin
  • Wounds - by increasing vaso-dilation, cell permeability, collagen synthesis and epithelial growth
  • Fractures - (particularly non-union) by mimicking the piezoelectric effect and draws Osteoblasts to the area under treatment
  • Pain relief - by inhibiting the pain signal and reducing inflammation. This has successfully been used in degenerative joint conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, spondylosis and many more
  • Treatment of tendon and ligament injuries and post operative care
  • Maintenance of muscles specifically when reduced range of movement, neurological conditions and debilitating injuries are present

This method can not be used if the patient is pregnant, may have infection of any kind and where growth plates are still open or the laying down of new bone would counter productive.



Electrostimulation has proved successful in the treatment of pain and helps to promote healing. Electrodes are applied to the skin over the motor points, and deliver low voltage, pulsed stimulation to surface nerves.
    This form of treatment is successful in;
  • blocking the pain signal and releasing endorphins
  • stimulating growth of hard and soft tissue
  • improving muscle function and strength
  • reducing the incidence of muscle atrophy
  • wound healing by stimulating re-epithelialization


Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a form of acoustic energy and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal injuries. Ultrasound acts as a deep heating agent and can produce temperature changes in tissues as deep as 1 - 5 cm (muscles and tendons) without causing damage to superficial tissues such as skin.
    Ultrasound treatment is used to;
  • treat skeletal muscle, tendon and ligament damage
  • treat contracted tendons
  • reduce oedema and inflammation
  • increase elasticity of muscles before further treatment
  • assist the alignment of collagen fibres making the scar tissue stronger and less likely to break down
  • produce a pain killing effect that can reduce muscle spasm and promotes the return to normal function
  • softens fibrous tissue and strengthens scar tissue

Arnie, 7 year old thoroughbred gelding who has torn his pectoral muscle. Arnie is being treated daily with ultrasound to reduce the swelling
and aid the muscle repair. Significant results are being seen after just 4 days of treatment.

Ellie is a 20 year old Irish Cross mare who developed a sudden onset of lameness.
After a referral to the vet she was diagnosed with a ruptured check ligament in her right fore.
June - pre ultrasound treatment. The darker area is the core lesion of the check ligament
August - Good evidence of healing with the darker area less apparent and more organisation of fibres.
November - Very little evidence of original core lesion and well organised fibre patterns.






Following identification of the problem and relevant treatment, implementation of a rehabilitation programme is also an area we work in.

    Common areas are;
  • Gradual exercise programmes for the rehabilitation of the ridden equine or performance canine after injury or rest
  • Post operative rehabilitation (particularly post orthopaedic and neurological surgery). This includes muscle strengthening and re-education, assisted standing, mobility and proprioceptive training
  • Chronic degenerative conditions. Specific exercises work at improving strength, joint range of movement and flexability, proprioception, confidence, reducing chronic pain and inflammation