Home' OsteoLife : OsteoLife Winter 2015 Contents www.osteopathy.org.au
Osteopathy Australia 15
QWhat attracted you to osteopathy initially
and how did you come to work with both
humans and animals?
After receiving osteopathic treatment following a motorcycle
accident I became so interested that I wanted to pursue it as a
career. In the UK, all osteopaths train at an undergraduate level
to treat humans. It is only after graduation that we can also add
animal treatment to our clinical business.
QHow different is the skill set you need when
working with humans as opposed to animals?
The skills required to successfully treat animals and birds are
adaptations to those we use in our human work. One of the
major differences is in the non-verbal communication. Body
language and avoiding wearing perfumes and after-shave
lotions are all factors that have to be thought through before
running an animal clinic. One of the challenges of working with
animals is that it’s difficult to obtain case histories. Owners and
trainers either filter information to you, or may be unaware of
incidents that might have created a problem in the first place.
The other major difference being based in the UK is that, by
law, we have to work via referral from an animal’s veterinary
surgeon. Note: In Australia regulation varies between states,
so it is important to check prior to treating animals. When
assessing animals your observation and palpation skills become
more acutely honed, which in turn benefits my human work.
QWhat would an average week as an animal
osteopath involve? What are the common
concerns that your patients present with?
My average week is a little bizarre, and as far as I know, unique.
The cases I see are varied due, in part, to the fact that most of the
referring vets know I’m interested in some of the more unusual
and also longer standing movement issues. With the majority
of my horse work I see chronic long standing problems, where
performance has gradually reduced and the patient is struggling
to cope with particular aspects of their work. Most canine patients
are ones where they are probably closer to our human patient
bookings. These are the MSK-based complaints, age-related
wear and tear, as well as sporting and work-related injuries and
RSI style conditions. Cats are mostly RTA victims, or age related
problems. However I do get asked to rule out neurological and
gynaecological-related issues for some vets as well. The wildlife
casualties are mostly MSK-based and the zoo and safari park
work relates mostly to MSK and age-related wear and tear issues.
However, some of the larger wildlife I see often involve psych-
somatic issues as well. Especially orphaned elephants and rhinos
whose mothers have died as a result of poaching or drought.
QWhat have been some of the key highlights
of your career?
Surviving both an Asian elephant and a black rhino charge,
although the latter was a youngster. Most of the time I have
to pinch myself that I make a living doing something that is
truly amazing. Helping animals invariably also helps the people
around them. Interacting with wildlife that would normally run
a mile from you or try to kill you is breath taking. I did treat a
very poorly African elephant calf that wasn’t able to clear fluid
from its lungs following pneumonia and met her many years
later in the wild. The park ranger I had been walking with,
while working with other orphaned elephant calves, called her
over to us and told me to breath into her trunk. She sniffed me
from top to bottom before completely relaxing her posture and
making soft vocalisations. The ranger was convinced she knew
me. We spent about 20 minutes together before she and the
rest of her group moved off, but not before she gave me a little
shoulder barge, several high-pitched squeaks from her trunk
and then melted away into the bush. That was a very special
moment for me. A more worrying incident happed closer
to home when a tranquilised western lowland gorilla I was
treating woke up just as I was mobilising its occiput/atlas joint!
QWhat’s your advice to other osteopaths who want
to work with animals?
My advice would be to study the species you wish to eventually
work with, understand their locomotor systems, physiology and
neurology, as well as any anatomical differences to those of the
human model. Note: There is currently no accredited course
running in Australia.
QWhy do you find working with animals so rewarding?
Often it’s the reaction from the owners, keepers, and
trainers, that make me realise just how great an impact
osteopathy can have. Very often a pet is the glue holding a
family together. When osteopathy helps to give then back
their beloved family member the reaction is greater than if the
patient had been a human. Being able to help an animal return
to the wild gives me a warm feeling.
THE WILDLIFE OSTEOPATH
Have you ever been charged at by an
Asian elephant or had a gorilla wake
up mid treatment? UK-based wildlife
osteopath, Tony Nevin has.
2/06/2015 3:19 pm
Links Archive OsteoLife Autumn 2015 OsteoLife Spring 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page