Manual Therapy for Horses

Defining manual therapy work in equines was a starting point of the Table Topic on Manual Therapy in Horses at the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) convention. Approximately 85 attended the Manual Therapy Table Topic session. Most attendees were veterinarians, but two human chiropractors and one physical therapist were also in attendance. The audience was an almost even mixture of those having practiced manual therapy techniques for many years and those newly considering manual therapy as a possible addition to their training.

Manual therapy was defined, with an explanation of the terms mobilization, manipulation, and adjustments. Educational opportunities for those wishing to pursue training in manual therapy techniques was provided to those in the group, and some attendees shared their educational experiences at the different certification programs.

Indications and contraindications for manual therapy were also discussed, as well as determination of practitioner competency for the purpose of referral. Other topics of interest and discussion included concerns with the practice of manual therapy techniques by non-professionals and the lack of intervention by state veterinary boards in prosecuting "lay" practitioners.

Concerns of "over-diagnosis" or misdiagnosis by manual therapy practitioners were also expressed. Some of these concerns are possibly due to different perspectives in what is being evaluated and palpated by veterinary versus manual therapy practitioners and the lack of knowledge in determining levels of clinical significance.

The issue of documentation of findings was also discussed, both for the purposes of an appropriate record to accompany patients as well as for creating material for case studies worthy of presentation and/or publication.

The possibility of a separate list-serve for manual therapy practitioners was also introduced.

This Table Topic was moderated by Kevin Haussler, DC, PhD, and Gayle Trotter, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, who wrote this report.

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