Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy uses various means to support the functional capacity of horses, from sick foals to elite athletes.

Physiotherapy is beneficial in cases of musculoskeletal ailments (e.g., prolonged lameness, pain in the back and lumbar region, tendon and ligament injuries, foot deformities in foals).

Physiotherapy is useful in post-operative rehabilitation. Consulting a physiotherapist is advisable especially after arthroscopy and colic surgery.

Physiotherapy often boosts the treatment of disorders and injuries associated with the nervous system. In addition, physiotherapy is used as supportive therapy for acutely ill or injured horses, including for promoting the functional capacity of newborn foals, maintaining respiratory function in patients with respiratory problems, and wound healing.

 

After identifying the problems, short- and long-term goals will be agreed with the owner. The short-term goals can, for example, include managing the pain in the back muscles, improving mobility and increasing muscle mass, activating abdominal muscles, and purchasing suitable equipment.

Long-term goals may include the horse’s return to a top athletic level and the prevention of the recurrence of back pains. A rehabilitation plan will be drawn up to attain these goals which includes a timetable and the forms of therapy chosen to be used.

Equine physiotherapy includes

Equine physiotherapy includes the following:

  • Active therapeutic exercises
    The goal of active therapeutic exercises is to make the horse move as desired, such as using a limb following surgery or a painful back more optimally in support of recovery.
    Therapeutic exercises include rail fence exercises, stimuli, elastic resistance bands, kinesiology taping and other taping techniques as well as riding and ground handling exercises.
  • Physical therapies (heat, cold, laser or electric therapies, such as TENS, EMS and microcurrent therapy)
    Electrotherapy is used to alleviate pain, for example, in horses suffering from back pain and to activate muscles following nerve damage. 
    The electrotherapy equipment of the Equine Hospital can be rented to take home, allowing the owner to provide electrotherapy on a daily basis in accordance with the physiotherapist’s instructions.

Laser therapy can be administered to support the healing of wounds, muscle injuries, and tendon or ligament damage.

  • Manual handling (the handling of soft tissue, including massage; stretching, and fascia techniques as well as the mobilisation and handling of joints and the spine)
    The goal of manual handling is to alleviate muscle tightness and tension states, and to increase mobility in the joints of the limbs and in the cervical spine and the spine.

     

  • Acupuncture and electroacupuncture
    Physiotherapists use acupuncture as a tool, always in cooperation with veterinarians. Its primary goal is to alleviate pain in various musculoskeletal disorders.

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital also provides electroacupuncture. Electroacupuncture can help, for example, in alleviating symptoms associated with headshaking and facial nerve palsy.