Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

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23.4 PT Evaluation of the Animal Rehab Patient (Equine)
Table of Contents



CONTENT: This monograph fills a void in the treatment and rehabilitation of the equine patient. The importance of obtaining a veterinary referral and diagnosis prior to assessing and treating the equine patient is stressed. The importance of a team approach to rehabilitation of the equine patient is also advocated. Clinical reasoning skills in performing a review of systems and general health assessment prior to physical therapy evaluation or treatment are presented. Conditions that may alter the course of physical therapy treatment, affect the prognosis, or require referral for further veterinary evaluation are highlighted. An understanding of musculoskeletal abnormalities, restrictions, pain, and gait abnormalities are covered in detail using a systematic scheme and conformation assessment approach. The formulation of a thorough plan of care is discussed and the influence of structural imbalances on injury development is elucidated. Clinicians with and without experience in treating the equine patient will benefit from their approach. CASE ANALYSES: Two case studies are presented and reviewed. The first case is a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding eventer who was referred by his attending veterinarian with a history of decreased performance over the past 6 months. He was working at the preliminary level and started backing off fences and refusing to jump. The second case is a 6-year-old appendix gelding low level children's hunter who was seen postoperative dorsal spinous process laminectomy T11–13.


animal therapy, examination, treatment


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