What is a Veterinary Physiotherapist?

So, this blog has been on the cards for a while now, but there simply hasn’t been the time to sit down and write it. Finally, that time has come, so I thought I’d start at the top. What is a Veterinary Physiotherapist? Firstly, a disclaimer… this blog post is SPECIFICALLY discussing ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapists. Many people are unaware that the title of “Veterinary Physiotherapist” is not protected in the same way as “Physiotherapist” is protected in human medicine. This means that anyone can call themselves a Veterinary Physiotherapist with any level of training and skill. As an owner it is your responsibility to research your therapist’s qualifications thoroughly and ensure they are competent to assess and treat your horse. ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapists have completed a minimum of five years at University to meet the stringent criteria set out by our professional association, we are qualified human Physiotherapists and are therefore entitled to use the protected title of Chartered Physiotherapist. We have then gone on to complete Post Graduate level study in Veterinary Physiotherapy, there are only two institutes in the UK that currently offer this prestigious APCAT accredited qualification; Hartpury University and the University of Liverpool. This high level of knowledge and skill, the time and dedication it takes to qualify to be Chartered, means that our services are priced accordingly, whilst there are cheaper therapists out there it is important to remember that there’s rarely such a thing as a cheap expert in any walk of life. Now, I am certainly not saying than your Veterinary Physiotherapist has to be ACPAT registered to be any good, there are alternative qualification routes for non Chartered Physiotherapists, including degree level courses, that have produced highly skilled Veterinary Physiotherapists, as I’ve said previously it is your responsibility to ensure your animals are cared for by suitably trained professionals. A register of both ACPAT and non ACPAT professionals that meet very high professional standards has been set up to help owners source suitably trained professionals, for more information go to: http://www.rampregister.org

An ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist is a medical professional. We hold a unique skill set comprising detailed knowledge of anatomy, pathology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, rehabilitation principles and therapeutic management. As well as this expert level of knowledge Chartered Physiotherapists are classed as autonomous practitioners in the human field. This means we assess and diagnose injuries and conditions independently from other professionals, in order to do this, we have to conduct very specific assessments to facilitate an accurate diagnosis. Whilst the job of diagnosis is reserved for Veterinary Surgeons only in the animal field (Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966), Chartered Physiotherapists are able to transfer these honed assessment skills to our veterinary clients. This enables us to maintain a high level of accuracy and clinical reasoning when treating your animal, ensuring we only prescribe treatment modalities that are appropriate to your animal’s individual requirements, this skill is what sets us apart from veterinary bodyworkers; Chartered Physiotherapists provide assessment focused services as opposed to non specific treatment – I am not “the back lady”.

Physiotherapy is considered a science rather than a complementary therapy, there is a wide evidence base behind the efficacy of physiotherapy which is why it is so widely recognised in both human and veterinary medicine. In short, physiotherapy is NHS funded in human medicine, the NHS does not spend money on services that are not proven to be effective. That is not to say that complementary therapies don’t work, but the evidence is less robust hence the distinction between the two fields. In the coming weeks this blog will give you a more in-depth insight into what I do as an ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist for both my human and veterinary clients, but for now I hope this post has given you an insight into the background of the profession and the unique skill set and depth of knowledge that ACPAT Physiotherapists hold.