21 December 2004

Sixteen newly graduated physiotherapists are turning their hands to assisting animals recover from injury and other ailments and helping trainers extract optimum performance from dogs and horses.

They are the first graduates from Australia’s only professional animal physiotherapy qualification, receiving their Masters of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy) at a ceremony at The University of Queensland (UQ) last week.

Having already qualified as human physiotherapists and holding at least 2 years experience in human clinical practice, the graduates spent the last two years training in the application of physiotherapy to both small and large animals.

Program coordinator Dr Catherine McGowan said UQ’s animal physiotherapy program was a unique example of cooperation between the physiotherapy and veterinary professions.

“UQ’s animal physiotherapy program is only the second of its kind in the world, following the lead of the Royal Veterinary College in London and representing a new era in animal health,” Dr McGowan said.

“It takes a holistic approach to animal health that mirrors the approach applied to our own human health where physiotherapy has been used for years to support medicinal and surgical healthcare.

“In the same way we can treat arthritis in people, we can treat arthritis in dogs. In the same way we treat footballers recovering from injury-inspired surgery, we can treat racehorses to deliver faster and more effective recovery and provide future injury prevention.”

Dr McGowan said the Masters of Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy) program had been developed in collaboration with UQ’s School of Animal Studies, School of Veterinary Science and the Division of Physiotherapy within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. An Academic Advisory Board drew members from the Animal Physiotherapy Group (APG), the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

Amongst the 16 UQ graduates is Michelle Monk, who received the program’s Combined Research Award. Ms Monk runs a specialist physiotherapy clinic for dogs in Victoria called “Dogs in Motion” employing various treatment techniques including an underwater treadmill and hydrotherapy centre.

“I found UQ’s animal physiotherapy program invaluable in providing structured, evidence-based training in the problems of animals, particularly dogs and horses, as well as the practical aspects of the adaptation of physiotherapy techniques to animals,” Ms Monk said.

“The combination means that we, as graduates, are uniquely placed to contribute physiotherapy services to the modern veterinary team.”

Large file images suitable for news reproduction of the graduating class are available on request.

More information:
Dr Catherine McGowan, (07) 5460 1706 or 0413.775.163; Brad Henderson, Marketing Coordinator, Faculty of NRAVS, (07) 5460 1229 or 0409.265.587