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Rehabilitation of the feline patient: acupuncture and hydrotherapy as part of a multidisciplinary team approach

02 February 2018
10 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 1


Land-based physiotherapy has been the treatment most commonly used where feline patients are referred for rehabilitation, but increasingly positive results are being seen in cats referred for hydrotherapy and in cases treated with acupuncture as part of a multidisciplinary team approach. Hydrotherapy includes the use of water treadmills and pools and can be used in a variety of rehabilitation cases including postoperative fractures, muscle wastage and some neurological conditions. Acupuncture is also well tolerated and is useful in some musculoskeletal and neurological problems.

Physiotherapy treatment as part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach is of benefit in physical rehabilitation of feline patients (Sharp, 2012; Vigor Craigie Halkett and Romano, 2017). Physiotherapy is useful in treating chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA) (Bockstahler at al, 2004; Slingerland et al, 2004), or as a supportive treatment pre operatively and post operatively, such as in cases of cruciate or patella fixation or, more commonly in cats, cases of fracture repair and spinal surgery (Scott et al, 2007; Harasen, 2008).

From the authors' perspective, a multidisciplinary team approach (incorporating various professionals such as physiotherapists, acupuncturists, McTimoney practitioners and hydrotherapists) could be more effective for the management of OA in cats compared with the use of single modalities. The composition of the team in any individual centre will vary, but emphasis should be placed on the tasks required to care for the individual patient's needs, with the aim of minimising the impact of the disease. This combined approach brings together the skills and knowledge of all team members, for both the assessment and management of disease, but requires a high level of communication and cooperation (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2009).

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