Proprioception

Proprioception is knowing where your body is in space and what your body is doing to keep it there. This needs to be achieved without conscious thought and processing of the information. This is just as important for your pet as it is for you. You need proprioception in everyday life to walk down the street or throw and catch a ball. The same way your pet does to go for a walk or chase a ball. It is even more important when performing more extreme activities like taking off and landing when your dog or cat jumps.

When you step off the curb without realising that there is going to be a drop, it is proprioception that stops people from face planting and allows them to recover their balance and posture. I know my proprioception is quite average because there have been a number of occasions that I have failed to adapt to the incoming information regarding my leg and bodies location.

We can use a variety of methods and exercises to challenge your pets proprioceptive awareness. This training will assist the brain to react quickly to sudden changes and maintain normal movement.  Proprioception is something that can be improved through training, just like heel work.

The ability to know in minute detail where their paw is in space is impaired when there is an injury, or even small amounts of pain. The information pathway has been disrupted and can even send the wrong information to the brain. This can mean that your pet does not ‘trust’ the limb any more. It may also mean that they can have an accident that will lead to further injury.

Puppies are another example where proprioception is less than perfect. Growing bodies, bones and muscles changing from day to day is difficult to adapt to. Starting to challenge this ability at a young age will help protect growing bones and joints and help your puppy to start to learn the skills to better adapt so changes in their body in the future.

Brendan Giles
Contraindications

What is it

Contraindications are things that don’t go together, or cause problems together. If a particular therapy would make your pet sick because of a condition they have, or a treatment they are already on, we say that the therapy is contraindicated. 

To me the perfect example is chocolate. I would quite happily eat chocolate every day of the week. But unfortunately for those who are lactose intolerant or celiac, if they eat regular Cadbury Dairy Milk they will end up feeling sick. So for them this delicious chocolate is not a good idea. Dairy Milk is contraindicated for those who are lactose intolerant or coeliac. 

What it means

Lots of therapies we uses, like some medications, massage and rehab have contraindications. That’s why it is important we get a full history from you and know what medications your pet is already on and any treatments they have had before we start treating.

For instance, if your pet is already on steroids they can not have non-steroidals because it will make them sick. Giving non-sterodials is  contraindicated for an animal on steroids.

Contraindications for massage include cancer and infection. 

Certain conditions such as arthritis, heart disease or kidney disease all have contraindications for certain modalities and therapies.

What we do about it

When you first visit us, we will ask you a lot of questions about your pet’s history, the conditions they have and the treatments they are on or have received. We will also undertake a through assessment of your pet. This is so we can structure our treatment plan to avoid any  contraindications that may make your pet sick or cause other issues. 

Brendan Giles
Atrophy

What is it

Atrophy is a decrease in muscle mass. It may be due to a disuse, reduced nervous input or simply not using those muscles as much.

What it means

This is often seen in cases where the animal decides to avoid using certain muscles due to injury or pain or when there is a problem with the nervous system. When an animal compensates for an injury by adjusting how they move, they neglect certain muscles, or groups of muscles, and this can lead them to atrophy. 

Atrophy of a muscle makes it weaker, which tends to create a cycle, the other muscles take over the job and the atrophied muscles then atrophy more. 

What we do about it

Tackling atrophy requires targeted therapy. The muscles that are atrophied don’t want to work, and there is a tendency for stronger muscles to take over the job. The dogs still want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible so they just go with the muscles that are currently working. We need to create exercise and therapies that don’t let the dog use the wrong muscles, and bias them to use the muscles that have atrophied so thy grow strong again. 

Brendan Giles