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Chiropractic Journal of Australia : December 2011
Chiropractic Journal of Australia Volume 41 Number 4 December 2011 129 in progress as of 2011 at the RMIT University in Melbourne. There appears to be a growing demand for this model of animal health care. Over 150 practitioners graduated from the course in veterinarian chiropractic at RMIT before it discontinued in 2009 after 12 years.34 Other courses are held by various professional organisations including the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA), the Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA), the International Association of Veterinary Chiropractors (IAVCP) and the American Animal Adjusting Association (AAAA). Courses are conducted in Canada. USA, UK, and continental Europe, with professional associations certifying qualifcations.35,36 As an indication of the demand for this form of health care, in the USA by 2010 there were reported to be over 3,400 licensed veterinarians and 4,400 licensed chiropractors trained to administer chiropractic spinal adjustments to animals.35 The demand for manipulative care for vertebrates was recognised as being initiated by the pet owners. One would presume this is in order to obtain resolution of certain disorders that have not responded previously. In 2002, Boldt stated "The use of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine continues to grow within the veterinary community. As more clients (sic) seek out complementary and alternative medicine for their own care, they begin to seek out these forms of therapy for their animals." 37 As early as 1992 the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) adopted a guideline concerning chiropractic care of horses. In 1998, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) then recognised chiropractic as a valid modality of treatment and developed guidelines for the practice of chiropractic in the veterinary feld. The AAEP guideline read: "Veterinary chiropractic should be considered a medical act and should be performed by a licensed veterinarian or a licensed chiropractor...." It concluded, "Chiropractic is a valuable treatment for horses, especially as clients (sic) were becoming more demanding of their horses and more aware of subtle lameness problems." This would suggest recognition of an area where results have not been forthcoming under traditional equine care. 38 A refection of the demand for chiropractic services for quadrupeds is demonstrated in the 2000 paper by Schoen. This study surveyed personnel at all 27 veterinary schools in the US. From the 34% of responses, Schoen found that '61% believed that chiropractic should be included' in their curriculum.39 Currently in the US, various states are in the process of considering amendments to veterinary and chiropractic acts in order to formalise the legislation of this new profession.40 Apart from utilising the term chiropractic itself, this latest profession seems to have adopted such chiropractic terms as adjustment and subluxation. The American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association also cites chiropractic references and adjusting instruments. Many of the members are veterinarians to start with. Their web site acknowledges the chiropractic contribution to this science.41 Contrary to the chiropractic-medical situation in Australia, there appears to be mutual respect and co-operation between veterinarians and chiropractors. The organisation representing the united profession in Australia, is the Australian Veterinary Chiropractic Association. This effectively merges their political, clinical and scientifc elements. It is interesting to note that the term veterinarian chiropractic has been adopted rather than a more neutral veterinary manipulation. The positive recognition of the chiropractic concepts and their adoption is significant acknowledgement of the potential contribution that it may make towards animal health interests. In recent years, texts,42-44 videos, seminars, and postgraduate and tertiary courses have all become available. (Fig 1) The texts also carry a number of anecdotal reports, as well as historical background on the emergence of this developing profession. Limited Research Scientifc publication of research on animal veterinary chiropractic is distinctly limited, even though it was frst mentioned in the indexed literature in 1960.45 However, several quality programs are now available to educate chiropractic and veterinary professionals together and it is expected that continued collaboration will lead to a greater volume of research being conducted and published. Much of the published material to date that appears on veterinarian and chiropractic practitioners' web sites is anecdotal. In addition, "There have been many favourable articles in the lay literature describing the value of chiropractic care for animals, but scientifc publications have been sparse."46 As recently as 2010, Haussler stated that "All forms of manual therapy have variable reported levels of effectiveness for treating musculoskeletal issues in humans, but mostly only anecdotal evidence exists in horses.” He also confrmed that "Currently, there is limited evidence supporting the effectiveness of spinal mobilisation and manipulation in reducing pain and muscle hypertonicity."47 Some 12 years ago, Haussler had stated that in relation to traditional equine knowledge, "Chiropractic provides additional diagnostic and therapeutic means that may help equine practitioners to identify and treat the primary cause of lameness or poor performance. Specialised training in the evaluation and treatment of vertebral joint dysfunction and neuromusculoskeletal disorders places chiropractic in the forefront of conservative treatment of spinal-related disorders. Nevertheless, limited research is currently available on equine chiropractic and other non-traditional modalities in veterinary medicine." 48 The 'limited research' does not appear to have prevented the adoption of chiropractic principles and models by many veterinarians. Signifcant studies exist where animals were the subjects in research into the chiropractic model of vertebrogenic disorders.49-52 It is only in relatively recent decades that the demand for care of spine-related animal disorders seems to have emerged. As recently as 2008, Gomez Alvarez and colleagues stated that in relation to back pain and spinal mobility in horses ANIMAL PATIENTS IN CHIROPRACTIC ROME • McKIBBIN
CJA March 2012