"Essential Facts of Physiotherapy in Dogs and Cats"

with educational video on DVD ''
Co-Authors: Barbara Bockstahler, David Levine, Darryl Millis
BE VetVerlag Babenhausen, 2004

ISBN 3-938274-08-3


I may be dating myself when I harken back to the old Dragnet television series which featured Jack Webb and Harry Morgan as no-nonsense police detectives. One of Webb's favorite lines when confronted with an over-exuberant female witness to a crime was "just the facts, ma'am." Jack Webb would have loved this book! I can't remember ever encountering another text written almost entirely in point form. Most sections end and are further summarized by a highlight box titled "Essential Facts." By utilizing this style, the authors do an excellent job of achieving their goal, as stated in their introduction, of providing a reference book for the "interested clinical veterinarian, veterinary physical therapist and student of veterinary medicine."

The first 4 short chapters deal with basic principles ranging from pain and analgesia to examination of the physiotherapy patient. Chapter 5 describes the most common physiotherapeutic modalities, including massage, therapeutic exercises, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, extra corporeal shock wave therapy, aquatic therapy and thermotherapy. Chapter 6 is titled "Indications" and comprises more than half the book. This chapter consists of suggested physiotherapy programs for nearly every conceivable orthopedic or neuromuscular condition. For example, under the heading of "femoral head ostectomy", there follows 5 Vi pages of material, including 2 tables. One table lists the different physiotherapeutic problems that an animal might face at various stages after femoral head ostectomy (FHO) surgery (pain, swelling, limited range of motion, muscle atrophy) along with possible modalities that could be used to address these problems. The other table outlines a complete rehabilitation program from day 1 postoperatively to beyond 9 weeks postoperatively, if required. There are also 11 color photographs illustrating the various therapeutic exercises and the placement of electrotherapy electrodes for treating the post-FHO patient. The material presented in this section is excellent and would allow any interested veterinarians to begin prescribing physiotherapy for their patients, even without sophisticated equipment or training. The chapter also includes 8 Vi pages of information and photographs on the application of physiotherapeutic modalities in cats. There are several interesting ideas and techniques presented that address the unique aspects of feline behavior as they apply to, and often limit, the application of a rehabilitation program to this species. This material is especially welcome, because the current literature on feline physiotherapy is sparse, to say the least.

The final section of the book, chapter 7, offers a very cursory consideration of the economic implications of physiotherapy in a practice situation, an even more cursory discussion of weight management in animals, plus a very limited list of references.

Based on the emphasis given electrotherapy in the text, the authors are obviously great believers in it, specifically neuromuscular electrical stimulation

(NMES) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The latter is listed as a part of the treatment program for nearly every condition.

This book is extensively illustrated with over 400 listed photographs and nearly 200 tables and charts. This is a great help in clearly presenting how various techniques are done.

Another highlight of the book is a 45-minute DVD that illustrates the physiotherapeutic examination, massage techniques, exercise therapy, electrotherapy principles, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and the use of an underwater treadmill.

Drs. Levine and Millis were the lead authors on another book in this subject area released in 2004. Canine Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy was reviewed in this journal (Can Vet J 2005;46:253). In general terms, that text contained a great deal of the theory and research behind small animal physiotherapy. It was lacking in suggestions for the practical application of the principles to common clinical cases. This latest book makes up for that. While the nit-picky reviewer may have wished for a little less detail and a little more practical information from the first book and while there are unquestionably places in this latest book which cry out for just a bit more elaboration that the "point form" presentation it provides, together the 2 texts make a nice pair in covering this subject. If you have to choose 1 of the 2, make it this latest text, particularly if you are in clinical practice. After spending an evening thumbing through the text and watching the DVD, you will be able to apply some of the techniques to your own patients the very next day. If you see animals with orthopedic or neuromuscular disease (and what practice doesn't?), you need to be offering physiotherapy within your practice and counseling your owners to continue some of the techniques at home. This book tells you how to do it!

Reviewed by Greg Harasen, DVM, Animal Clinic of Regina, 1800 Garnet Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4T 2Z2.

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