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.
Whilst therapists can equip themselves with a range of electrotherapies, a therapists hands are their most important tool. Good feel, understanding the smallest tissue response and knowing what feels ‘normal’ when palpating and assessing range of movement are vital to understanding what is going on beneath the hair and how best to progress with the treatment.
When assessing horses I first look at their movement, symmetry, suppleness, posture and general demeanour.
Muscle elasticity and development
Muscle elasticity is fundamental in the movement and health of horses no matter what their discipline, as it allows for more controlled movements, ability to correct themselves and helps to prevent injury
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.
Although phototherapy and ultrasound are available, INDIBA is Hannah’s go to therapeutic device for her equine patients.
With scientific evidence and bags of successful cases under her belt, Hannah works on issues related to tendons and ligaments, arthritis, pain, performance, and general wellbeing.
Incorporating INDIBA into treatments can not only aid injury repair but also help to maintain tissue and cellular health.
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
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.
Attacked 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.
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.
Arnie 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, 20 year old Irish Cross mare.eveloped 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.
Whether your animal is recovering from surgery, has been diagnosed with degenerative joint condition, is in pain or discomfort, has dropped in performance or had developed abnormal behaviour, physiotherapy is a none invasive method of treatment providing the optimum conditions for the animal to heal naturally and efficiently.