In 2017 I qualified as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute course coordinated by VetPrac here in Australia.  The field of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physical Therapies is really only just taking off in Australia, it is already huge in the US and Europe with many dedicated clinics and full time clinicians there. It was the first time this wonderful course was offered in Australia. I had previously contemplated attending the course in the US, so I was very excited to find it was being offered in Australia through VetPrac.

I have been a small animal vet for 27 years and an IVAS qualified Veterinary Acupuncturist for the last 12 years and also do a lot of trigger point (muscle knots) and soft tissue manipulation work with Canine Athletes. So this CRI course was a natural extension of the work I already did and it has helped me enormously in my business. In regards to musculoskeletal injuries I was already doing a lot for the pain and disability of the initial injuries and secondary compensatory issues, but the CRI course has helped me enormously in returning the animals back to optimal performance whether that is following a sporting soft tissue injury or following orthopaedic surgery. It has given me a greater understanding of the injuries and the demands of canine sports, but also common orthopaedic injuries in non athletes.

The first module was three days of Canine Sports medicine in Sydney in February 2016 and was conducted by Dr Chris Zink, who is very well known and respected in the World of Dog Agility. This introductory workshop gave me many practical skills dealing with the many agility dogs I see.  It taught us detailed musculo-skeletal exams, gait analysis and musculo-skeletal special test as well as practical exercises to strengthen weak muscles. This is not something that was taught to us in vet school really and yet it is something we encounter every day in practice. This 3 day course gives veterinarians a much needed insight into the world of canine athletes and the many issues that involves them as well as pets with common injuries.

The following two modules are five days long each and are very practical and incredibly useful. The Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation module is an intensive 5 day revision of musculoskeletal anatomy and the biomechanics of how anatomy is related to function and performance. The diagnostic methods of musculoskeletal conditions are explained through this workshop. It was a huge eye opener and so much more fun and useful than anatomy back in vet school. The Canine Therapist five day module concentrates on the therapy aspect of rehabilitation and how all three modules fit together. All three courses have a large practical, hands on approach working with actual canine athletes and patients with injuries.

Each module is followed by an online exam and after completing all three modules there is a week long internship with a pre-approved clinician in the field of rehabilitation therapies for those wishing to become certified.

I would highly recommend the courses to anyone interested in the field of Canine Muscular Injuries, Rehabilitation, and Sports Medicine. It is particularly helpful for musculo-skeletal injuries and those obscure lameness mysteries that no one seems to be able to solve. It goes a long way towards being the equivalent of a Canine Physiotherapist without doing a Human Physiotherapy degree. I have thoroughly enjoyed this intense but wonderful course and I am very grateful to VetPrac for bringing this much needed course to Australia. I highly recommend the Canine Rehabilitation Institute courses.

If you’re interested undertaking the steps that will lead you to becoming a CCRT certificate holder with the internationally acclaimed canine rehabilitation institute, July 30th – August 3rd VetPrac will be hosting the The Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation Workshop. The workshop is open to physiotherapists, nurses, and veterinarians, and will be held in Brisbane. Register today HERE! For more information read the brochure. 

Written by Dr Esther Horton