Functional Assessment


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(Online + 5 Days Lab) Instructor: Dr.Narelle Stubbs, B.appSc.(PT) M. AnimSt(Phys), PhD 

Offered to: Physical Therapists, Veterinarians, Equine Chiropractors and Equine Osteopaths.
Animal Rehabilitation Institute courses are taught at Half Pass Heaven Farm a beautiful 10-acre dressage facility located in Palm Beach County, Florida minutes from the winter equestrian festival in Wellington, Florida.

Course Description: Online Lecture series and 5 days live lab.  The aim of this module is to provide participants with a fundamental understanding of the practice of equine sports medicine including assessment/treatment, rehabilitation performance enhancement, incorporating a professional team approach.  Principles of neuromotor control and dynamic stability will be introduced in conjunction with the participant developing the necessary knowledge and skills to perform a functional patient evaluation of the equine orthopedic neurological and myofascial systems. Manual therapy techniques used in equine assessment, treatment and rehabilitation will be introduced, along with therapeutic electro modalities and therapeutic exercise prescription. This course will assist the development of clinical reasoning skills and evidence based practice such that graduates have the necessary skills to aide healing, encourage injury prevention and sports specific performance enhancement to horses, their owners and their veterinarians.

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the ability to perform a static and dynamic functional assessment of the equine patient from a functional sports specific biomechanics perspective; conformation, posture and locomotion evaluation with and without the rider.

Describe and demonstrate the safe utilization of various forms of electro-modalities: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and neurotrophic muscle stimulation (Estim) in the assessment and treatment of the equine. Incorporation of electro-modalities including LASER, Low Frequency Ultrasound and various forms of Magnetic Field Therapies  (Q-Magnets).

  • Evaluation of spinal and peripheral joint range of motion and functional mobility, dynamic stability and postural control.
  • Manual Therapies: Demonstration-discussion or evaluation and treatment technique of the peripheral joint complexes of the throaxic and pelvic limbs. Functional Provocation Testing.
    • Intervertebral-segmental and coupled motion passive and active assessment (mobilization with movement); palpation, ROM, joint end feel, quality of motion, accessory glides, and provocation tests.
  • Evaluation of the cranio-cervical region including TMJ and hyoid complexes; thoracolumbar including the costovertebral/costotransverse and sternal joint complexes; and the lumbopelvic region including the sacroiliac complex and caudal vertebrae.
  • Myofascial assessment-treatment; palpation, tissue irritability, ligament integrity testing, neuromechanical flexibility, sensitivity, positional tests-releases and dynamic stability-stretching of individual myofascial complexes (musculotendinous)groups.
  • Evaluation of the neuromuscular system: adverse neural tension (nerve length tension tests), neuromechanical sensitivity.
  • “Basic” Functional neuromechanical and gross motor assessment of the cervicothoracic, thoracolumabar and pelvic complexes.
  • Evaluation of the peripheral circulatory system including the lymphatic system; detection of inflammation, edema, haematoma’s and effusions etc.
  • Demonstrate clinical reasoning skills, utilizing knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and pathophysiology. Incorporation of the “Team” approach: Veterinary, Physiotherapist, Farrier, Saddle-fitter, instruction-trainer, grooms, rider/owner.
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop problem solving skills; a hierarchical problem list, functional prognosis, treatment strategies and goal setting, short and long term treatment – management plan.
  • Describe and demonstrate basic spinal and peripheral joint manual therapy (mobilization) techniques, using applied principles and theories from; Physiotherapy (Maitland, Mulligan,McKenzie, Muscle Energy, Chiropractic/ Physiotherapy adjustments and osteopathic techniques).
  • Demonstrate myofascial and neuromechanical mobilization and manipulation techniques applied from Physiotherapy and osteopathy principles.
  • Describe fundamental neurological deficiency evaluation and rehabilitation.
  • Create a sport specific therapeutic exercise programs for:
    1. Static Dynamic Stability:coordinated motor control-function
    2. Functional Sport Specific Dynamic Stability: coordinated sensory-motor control function
    3. Dynamic flexibility; myofascial and joint systems
    4. Proprioceptive/Neuromotor Control and Facilitation Techniques (sensory integration); tactile, proprioceptive and mechanoreceptive activity, including assessment and treatment strategies (Balancing-postural dynamic stability devices, taping, tactile stimulation devices including the Equiband System.
    5. Strength; coordinated motor function
  • Describe and demonstrate comprehensive assessment routines for both the neurological and orthopedic equine patient.
  • Describe and implement a neurological treatment plan utilizing sensory integration, neural-dural mobilization, proprioceptive functional retraining and other modified and adapted ‘human’ neurological rehabilitation techniques.
  • Clinicial Reasoning Strategies: Ability to identify and formulate functional differential “diagnostic” assessment-treatment-management plan (sport specific) in conjunction with the patho-anatomical diagnostics (referring Veterinarian) prognostic and treatment goals.  Demonstrate theory and execute various treatment skills for a wide variety of common neuromusculoskeletal problems in the equine patient.
  • Identify and utilize functional and objective assessment-outcome measures.


5 Day Lab Course Outline:
Day 1:

Classroom/Lab 8 am – 5 pm (1 hour lunch break)
Practice of Animal Physiotherapy
Review of Physiotherapy Assessment and Treatment Techniques
Critical Thinking Skills Utilizing Knowledge of Anatomy/Physiology
Lab: Gait Assessment, Limb Assessment (Provocation Tests) and Treatment
Soft Tissue Assessment and Treatment

Day 2:
Classroom/Lab 8 am – 5 pm (1 hour lunch break)
Review: Cervical-Thoracic-Lumbar and Pelvic Assessment
Clinical Reasoning
Equine Back Pain Research
Stretching and Neuromechanical Sensitivity

Day 3:
Classroom/Lab 8 am – 5 pm (1 hour lunch break)
Treatment Techniques Cervicothoracic and Thoracolumbar Dysfunction
Management of Lumbosacral and Sacroiliac Dysfunction
Proprioceptive Retraining Techniques

Day 4:
Classroom/Lab 8 am – 5 pm (1 hour lunch break)
Neurological Assessment and Treatment Theories and Techniques
Electrotherapeutic Modality Review and Trials
Goal Setting and Treatment Planning/Implementation for Specific Conditions
Case Studies, Brainstorming and Questions
Practical Exam

Day 5:
Classroom/Lab 8 am – 3 pm (1 hour lunch break)
Advanced Modalities Lecture/Lab
Outcome Measures
Legal Issues and Ethics of Practice

Discussion/Review of Cases

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