I qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist for humans at St Thomas’ Hospital in London rather a long time ago – 1972!
From an early age I developed a great passion for animals and seemed to attract a variety of waifs and strays, much to my father’s dismay! My father was a Chartered Physiotherapist and despite his declared lack of affection for animals, he gradually became converted. We had a family dog who hurt itself, plus one or two neighbour’s dogs, and my father showed me how to apply physiotherapy techniques to help them recover.
This started me on the road to become a Chartered Animal Physiotherapist, as well as a human physio.
That road has been a long one, and I have seen huge changes in both the attitude of the Veterinary and Medical Profession, towards Physiotherapists. In 1985 I helped found ACPAT (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy), and was a founder member.
My early work with animals was almost exclusively with horses, but in the past 15 years I began to see more dogs with a variety of Orthopaedic problems, and I began to look more at what Physiotherapy could offer these dogs.
In the human sphere, physios can give their patients a list of exercises, show them what to do, and hopefully the patient will carry them out! It’s not quite so easy with animals!
I began to investigate the Canine Hydrotherapy field to see how this could help patients. As a student I worked in the Human Hydrotherapy Centre at St Thomas’ and saw clearly the benefits for the patients there.
After a lot of research, visiting different centres and discussing all the different ideas I decided to open a Hydrotherapy Centre at our small farm near Wadebridge, Hawksland Hydrotherapy. We decided to go for the Gold Standard and install a pool, underwater treadmill, spa and drier, and for a long time we had the only Underwater Treadmill in Cornwall.
We opened in May 2005, and really enjoyed our work, gradually increasing our knowledge in this comparatively new field. We worked hard to establish good relationships with the Veterinary Practices, and thoroughly enjoyed our time at Hawksland. We attended regular CPD courses to keep our knowledge up to date.
Unfortunately my husband David, who trained as a Hydrotherapist after a long career in farming, developed Parkinson’s Disease. We sadly decided to sell the farm and business, and downsize. Rebecca had been working with us as a trainee, and we both had great confidence in her capabilities, so we decided that she would be a good person to take Hawksland forwards.
Despite a huge number of obstacles and problems, her determination has finally brought the new Hawksland Hydrotherapy to the point of re-opening. I am going to be working with Rebecca. I will act as a mentor, and will be offering a variety of physiotherapy treatments, as shown in the Physiotherapy section of the website.
Rebecca and I look forwards to the exciting prospect of a new, improved service for the Care and Rehabilitation of dogs and cats in Cornwall.