Animal Physiotherapy is an allied health profession, recognized by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) in the Netherlands. The profession is carried out by qualified human physiotherapists who have passed a two-year postgraduate degree in Animal Physiotherapy. In Belgium the 'Belgian Association for Certified Animal Physiotherapists' (BACAP) attempts to seek a formal recognition in the near future.
The animal physiotherapist focuses on the musculoskeletal system, aiming to relieve pain, restore normal function, and enhance performance and well-being. I am a huge advocate of the multi-disciplinary team approach to equine rehabilitation; most notably in tandom with the veterinarian. Every horse is given an individual approach, whether the treatment is preventive or curative. The treatment does not only focus on the specific injury, but also on the impact of the injury on the overall musculoskeletal system.
During the initial consultation, a medical record is established and an extensive clinical examination is performed. After this, a physiotherapy diagnosis is conducted. If it qualifies for treatment, a concrete treatment plan is developed. When conditions are untreatable, the horse is referred to a specialist vet for further veterinary examination. It is also possible that after a veterinarian’s diagnosis, they may refer the horse to an animal physical therapist for further physiotherapy support.