Saturday, March 20, 2010

School for Animal Physical Therapy?

In the last post, I outlined the big picture. But, now for some details about how to get trained in animal physical therapy. The 2nd most commonly asked question I am asked is if there are any schools (degree programs) specifically for animal physical therapy. Currently, there are NOT any formal programs at the university degree level. I hope to see a masters program in animal physical therapy created in the near future.

Until then, the best training includes:
1) Being a PT, PTA, vet, or vet tech first
2) Several continuing education courses in animal rehabilitation
3) A lot of self-study (especially anatomy, biomechanics, and gait)
4) Observation with veterinarians and surgeons
5) Hands-on experience in handling animals
6) Hands-on experience in applying PT techniques to the animals
7) Learning about behavior from animal trainers is very helpful too.

The continuing education courses/programs are generally offered to the following professionals: physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians. At the moment, there are two programs (in the United States) that are similar in nature and result in a "certificate" in either canine or equine physical rehabilitation. The programs, in a nutshell, are a series of weekend courses (actually, last time I checked, you could take them in longer chunks, such as 6 days of classes at once as well). Plus, they involve some shadowing of an animal therapist, case studies, and a final exam.

There are 2 primary centers for animal PT (rehabilitation) courses. One is based in Florida and split into canine and equine. The other is based out of Knoxville, TN (affiliated with UT vet school), but they offer courses in various locations. I'll put the links to their websites below so that you may check them out. I entered the profession before the certification programs existed, but I have heard that they are excellent. Best of luck!

Canine Rehabilitation Institute:

Equine Rehabilitation Institute:

University of Tennessee Outreach Program

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