Animal Biomechanical Medicine (ABM) is an evolving profession. All ABPA members are registered professionals – Veterinarians or human/animal qualified, registered Chiropractors or Osteopaths. ABM evolved through the interaction of an innovative and open minded group of professionals who came together through the operation of the RMIT University Animal Chiropractic program between 1998 and 2009. This program was open to Veterinarians, Chiropractors, and Osteopaths. It has attracted many practitioners who questioned convention and thought laterally.
Those who are constantly seeking to understand what they do not know and learn what is unknown are the true scientists and leaders of fields. ABPA members are leaders in animal care and wellbeing– we aim to expand on what we were taught in the lecture room and our experiences. We are dedicated to the pursuit of new and beneficial approaches as we seek to improve outcomes for biomechanically dysfunctional animals, and then document our findings scientifically to educate the broader animal care community.
ABM encompasses various assessment, treatment, and management techniques suitable for animals with a focus on Chiropractic and Osteopathy techniques. However, due to the broad experiences, continued learning and open-mindedness of our practitioners there are many influences to each practitioner’s assessment and treatment styles. ABPA members share their continued learnings and knowledge through our annual continuing professional development course and case study discussions – this open sharing between the three original professions is the great strength of this new discipline.
The saying that the whole is more than the sum of all its parts is so true of Animal Biomechanical Medicine and the ABPA.
The core principal of ABM is the identification of biomechanical dysfunction anywhere in the body and the application of therapies, most often manually applied by the ABM professional, to return the patient’s body to best possible function – promoting homeostasis and optimum performance of that individual. The severity and chronicity of pre-existing conditions will influence the degree of recovery that is possible. ABM treatment scope ranges from high velocity low amplitude thrusts typical of Chiropractic, through a large range of soft tissue massage and release techniques, to non-force neurological influencing techniques such as fascial and respiratory releases, which are derived more from Osteopathy.
The three component professions of the ABM profession are Veterinary, Chiropractic and Osteopathic.
Let’s take a quick look at each:
Osteopathy encompasses a wide range of manually applied therapies, considering wider/global dysfunction patterns within the patient as well as the specific dysfunctional segment.
In Osteopathy the segment includes spinal segmental components and all the relevant neurological, embryological, fascial and vascular connections. Dysfunction in any one of those components will affect the function of the whole segment and the interconnectedness of the body as a whole means that there may be consequences widely throughout the body.
Identification of dysfunction in all areas and the management of relationships between the various areas of dysfunction identified is critical to Osteopathy and therefore ABM.
ABM is specifically directed at assessing the biomechanics of animal spines, and correcting them using a variety of techniques, including the “spinal adjustment”.
An ‘adjustment’ applied by a qualified ABM professional is a much safer, more specific technique than ‘manipulations’ applied by unqualified practitioners.
Spinal adjustment is a highly effective technique that really does get excellent results, and is usually very comfortable for the animal. The amount of effort or force applied in an adjustment is of course tailored to the needs of each animal, and is generally much smaller than you might think would be necessary.
Every ABM veterinarian is a thinker who has questioned the status quo.
They are also likely to think deeply about examination and treatment options as well as considering case management and preventative recommendations, in line with evidence-based and scientific treatment and management options offered.
ABM Veterinarians have all at some stage become aware of the limitations of their original veterinary training with respect to the assessment of the upper body and spine and started looking for treatment options beyond drugs and surgery. The broad range of physical modalities included in ABM offers a comprehensive version of the third branch of medicine – the physical therapies.
ABM is directed at conditions, syndromes, or other symptom patterns that can be attributed to a biomechanical cause. Where a practitioner cannot attribute the problem to such a cause, or where concurrent health problems are suspected other veterinary protocols will then be recommended. (NB: in the case of Chiropractors and Osteopaths, they would promptly refer the patient to a Veterinarian for further assessment).
Back and neck pain and stiffness are not the only problems that may respond well to ABM. Commonly, conditions such as shortness and irregularity of stride, lameness, injury and traumas, may respond very well to ABM procedures – but many conditions may show a response to ABM if biomechanical dysfunction is present and contributing to the problem. There have been numerous reports of good responses to ABM treatment from animals with lick granulomas and other skin conditions, metabolic conditions, behavior problems and sub-optimal performance.
Research into the efficacy of ABM and physical therapies in animals is an area that is expanding and requires continued investigation. The current ABM course has components dedicated to equipping ABM practitioners with the skills required to document and publish the results of their work.