HORSE physiotherapist Jo Paul, who hails from Duns, may have passed up the opportunity to work with the physio team at the 2012 Olympic Games because of family commitments but the sacrifice was made a little easier recently when she was awarded a horse therapy industry ‘Oscar’ given to the member voted to have given the greatest contribution to the profession over the past year.
Jo, who is based at the Woollands Equine Rehabilitation Centre at Cockburnspath, said: “It is always fantastic to win an award but it is extra special to have been voted for by other Association of Chartered Physiotherapists Animal Therapy physiotherapists (ACPAT) who are all working so hard to develop therapy delivered to animals.
“I was lucky enough to be nominated for this award last year and this year, due to family commitments, decided against applying to be part of the Olympic Games physio team, therefore I was genuinely surprised at my ‘Oscar moment’ and for once had nothing to say other than thank you.”
The CSP meets twice a year to consider nominations of members of the CSP for Fellowship of the CSP or Distinguished service awards. One of the nomination statements said: “I nominate Jo Paul for her contribution to pushing knowledge and education forward both with professionals (including physio’s) and the general public alike. For not accepting that what we know and currently do is enough but striving to make sure that our profession stays the best.”
Jo is a former pupil of the Berwickshire High School and member of the Berwickshire Pony Club, later on becoming part of the South Lammermuir Riding Club.
She has worked for over 20 years providing physiotherapy for the horses in the World Horse Welfare UK Rescue and Rehoming Farms. Initially she provided physiotherapy in all the UK farms but has now introduced other ACPAT members to each farm.
Animals, like people, respond to physiotherapy which is used to restore and maintain mobility, function, independence and performance.
Roly Owers, chief executive for World Horse Welfare commented: “World Horse Welfare always uses chartered physiotherapists as part of our ‘whole horse approach’ Farm teams. They work with the vets, farriers and other professionals, applying their deep understanding of the physiological issues that our horses face. Their level of skill helps us to provide efficient and effective rehabilitation.”
Jo works with all equines from hairy ponies to world games stars with equal enthusiasm, and is passionate about improving the welfare of all her patients by supporting the education in equine movement and re-habilitation. She lectures at various conferences for groups ranging from Riding/Pony Club, RDA and sporting groups.
She is a clinical educator and lecturer/examiner for the UK’s Veterinary Physiotherapy MSc courses, based at Hartbury and previously the Royal Veterinary College, London. She also leads seminars for physiotherapists abroad and believes the profession is growing year by year with many fantastic people from all over the world becoming involved.
ACPAT members have been selected as the only veterinary physiotherapists to work on the main veterinary headquarters team at the London Olympics. These members will be providing physiotherapy treatment to any horse competing in Olympic dressage, show jumping and eventing events over the period of the Games.
Legally anyone can set up business and call themselves an animal physiotherapist but ACPAT has worked tirelessly over the past 25 years to give their members access to a high level of education to enable them to research and develop practice.
Jo said: “I applaud anyone who wishes to extend their education to benefit animals whether they add massage to their skills or a more comprehensive sports therapy course. I urge anyone marketing their skills to be honest and celebrate the service they provide, by clearly stating what they offer.
“In that way clients get what they ask for and if owners do not ask for physiotherapy then it is up to us to up our game.’
Jo is a founder member of ACPAT Scotland and is always on hand to support newly qualified members and will give ‘warts and all’ view to those looking to become chartered veterinary physiotherapists.
She warns: “This is not a career path to embark on to avoid working with people, all animals have owners and it is just as important to support them as it is to treat the animal. I still treat humans and the two aspects of my work stimulate development of each other.”
To become a member of the CSP, you have to have trained in human physiotherapy via a recognised degree course to be eligible for membership of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. ACPAT members are all Chartered Physiotherapists who have undergone post-graduate training to adapt their skills to treat animals.