A little insight to life as a veterinary rehabilitation specialist, from Kerrie who is heading up the Wellness Centre.
I absolutely love my job as a veterinary physiotherapist and hydro-therapist! I love what I do and not only is it very rewarding, it is a challenge mentally as well as physically.
My days vary and they always keep me on my toes! My day can be mixed with my regular patients that visit for routine checks and maintenance to the more challenging cases, where we may not have a diagnosis yet for that patient. This part of the job I really enjoy as I get to be involved in the work up process and help discover problems as well as help devise an individual treatment plan.
Not only do my days vary, but so do the species. It’s a mixture of dogs, cats and even the odd rabbit! Some of these cases are routine maintenance, some are having post-operative rehabilitation for various conditions such spinal, cruciate ligament injuries as well as fracture repair. Other patients may be suffering from sprains, muscle strains or arthritis.
It is incredibly rewarding to see a patient progress. The owners are equally pleased to see their beloved pet / companion improve. Some of my patients just like a routine massage as a treat post agility / competition. This can help keep them supple.
Each consultation and treatment session is different. I like to start with an initial consultation as this allows me to obtain a detailed history of the patient as well as allows the patient and I to become familiar with each other. Trust is a very important aspect.
Rehabilitation is often a long process and many of my owners come back for repeat sessions weekly to once a month, depending on the original complication. The advantage to this is that I can update the owners with exercise regimes that are tailored to the patient’s individual needs, as well as monitor their progress and make changes to the original plans as and when necessary.
Each case must be treated individually. No two cases are the same, even if the diagnosis is. Each patient requires a full physical assessment. During this procedure I will ask the client questions about the patient, the injury / complication. Once I have obtained a patient overview, I can then carry out a physical examination, this will include a full gait analysis as well as flexion and extension examinations. This allows me to get a feel for the issues present and allows me to start thinking about personalising a treatment plan. The treatment plan will vary depending on the patient and their condition. The plan will include my aims for the patient, home exercises that I will teach the owner to do as well as making changes to their exercise regime, add exercises that will improve the patient’s strength, flexibility or co-ordination. Treatments may be in the water, land-based or even both! Each follow up appointment will show me whether there has been any progress or deterioration in the case.
Sometimes the cases can be very challenging to work. Some patients co-operate others won’t, and so if they won’t do an exercise you want them too then I have to work out another way to achieve the action needed. You will also find that some patients are very switched on and clever, so much so that some work out how to take an easier route than doing the exercises you set that will work on the problem area!
After works over it’s all about the paperwork! During this time I need to ensure that I keep the referring veterinary surgeons up to date with their patients and the treatment plans that I am devising.
My job is incredibly physical and mentally challenging. It is important to form a bond with the patient and their owner. No matter how experienced you are with each species of animal, you have to be on your guard and earn their trust. You must remember that you are working in their territory, their level. Without patient trust it can be very dangerous. Luckily, both my patients and their owners trust me! I love seeing how my regular patients get excited to see me! It makes my job so much more enjoyable! It is also very rewarding to get feedback and updates from owners too!
I have the best job in the world!