Significant grant awarded to Heli Hyytiäinen, researcher in veterinary physiotherapy

Heli Hyytiäinen, DPhil, has been granted funding by the Academy of Finland for part-time research over the four-year period 2018–2022. Hyytiäinen is investigating canine hip dysplasia, or hip instability, and the effect of physiotherapeutic treatment on hip instability and associated diseases in German Shepherd dogs.

“Funding granted for clinical research is extremely important; this is enabling me to conduct my new project through which I hope to further advance research-based veterinary treatment and animal welfare,” says Heli Hyytiäinen.

Hip dysplasia and related osteoarthritis are very common canine diseases, particularly in large breeds. Dysplasia leads to disturbances in the functioning of limbs and osteoarthritis in the hip joint, whereas osteoarthritis leads to further functional limitations, symptomised by pain, a limited range of motion and weight-bearing ability, as well as muscle atrophy and limping. These problems impact dogs’ quality of life, dysplasia actually being a common reason for putting dogs to sleep.

Hyytiäinen aims to investigate the effect of a systematic physiotherapeutic exercise programme on the development of osteoarthritis in young dogs with unstable hips. An additional goal is to develop a new test for assessing the activity of dysplasia patients. Hyytiäinen also aims to investigate the improvement of young dogs’ physical performance as a result of exercise.

Link to the press release by the Academy of Finland

Heli Hyytiäinen, DPhil, is working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Petbone research group (link in Finnish only) led by Professor Outi Vapaavuori at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.