Thursday, 26 February 2015

Differences between complementary therapies - made simple

I went to give a talk last week to a veterinary practice in Eastbourne. One of the questions I was asked by them was to help them know how best to use massage therapy as part of their treatment options, namely which cases benefit from it. As professionals they are in a position of having to advise clients whether to pursue physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, specialist referral etc. They are aware that most clients want to be convinced that any intervention is of benefit to their pet at a fair cost (in time and money) to them. 

I'm pretty OK with most complementary therapies - hydrotherapy, for example, helps to rebuild and strengthen muscle while providing non weight bearing exercise to reduce stress to joints/muscles - but was stumped a bit with animal physiotherapy as most sites I looked at seemed to have similar aims as we do. 

Both therapies are non-invasive, both work with vets, both are highly qualified and professional, both would aim to promote movement, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability, both offer stretches, strengthening exercises, postural training and balance exercises .

I think the biggest difference is the tools we use. Physiotherapists will often include massage in their toolkit but frequently the soft tissue is manipulated with tools such as lasers, heat, ultrasound, traction, manipulation and many more. My tools are largely my hands and education of the owner leaving them with a tailored plan that they can perform on their dogs daily. So everyone I see gets a short workbook from me (with pictures of Sam covered in arrows for directions - bless him!) tailored to the needs of their dog and the issues we found during treatment. Plus massage therapy to me is quite holistic and I find good results not only from treating specific injuries but also senior dogs or dogs that need relaxation. 

That must have made sense to the vets as a couple of days after I gave my talk (where again Sam & Sarah Demo Dogs were the stars looking adoringly at all the vets) I received a referral from them to go and help a 13 year old Labrador who was beginning to wobble a bit. 

The handsome dog clearly had the will to walk but lacked muscle tone. So I worked on him by gently easing out the tension and exercising his muscles and joints while he lay there smiling. To our surprise he bounded up after 45 minutes to 'race' to the kitchen for a big slurp of water. I think he was as surprised as we were as the speed he could now move. But that was it - he didn't want anymore from me. 45 minutes was his limit. 

I went through a routine with his owner that she could perform daily to keep him mobile. I have just received some heartwarming feedback "Morning Les, firstly thank you for coming to visit my dog and giving him a fantastic massage, he is better on his rear legs today and much brighter in himself, but relaxed at the same time 😀. And what an excellent "how to" massage him myself; so clear, explanatory, & helpful, which we shall be using daily, I'll see how we get on and will be in touch to let you know.

I love what I do!

I have just had an update on the outcome of my session with the dog and owner.  I received an email which said "Update on my dog, just given him a lovely massage- even let me touch his toes! Sleeping & snoring slightly - happy boy! ". Things like that make everything worthwhile.  I am guessing that the dog is far more relaxed now which has to be helping his quality of life and mobility.

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