THE HEALING TOUCH
Alopa Madane, loves being a physiotherapist and she also loves our four-legged friends. So when, after four years of helping people heal, she had the opportunity to combine the two passions, it seemed like the best job in the world!
As a first step, Alopa spent time discussing the subject with a renowned veterinarian in Pune, Dr. Milind Hatekar, who also happens to be her dog’s doctor. The conversation revealed that there was a huge dearth of physiotherapists for canines as the concept of physiotherapy is mainly associated with humans. Veterinarians do recommend exercises to help pet owners, but they are unable to spend time applying the principles of physiotherapy to achieve better and faster results. This made Alopa’s resolve firmer. She went on to read and research a lot about canine rehabilitation and was faced with the fact that, although it is a big branch of studies elsewhere in the world, in India there was little to no awareness of the topic.
Alopa attributes it to the lack of funding, the doubts about the effectiveness of exercise science and physiotherapy, and the tragic fact that most people don’t believe that the quality of life of an animal is as important as those of humans.
Determined to change the situation or at least do her bit to improve it, Alopa spent a lot of time carefully studying animal anatomy. She attended canine surgery workshops as a volunteer to get a closer look at the anatomy of an animal. Although her clinic of human patients keeps her busy throughout the week, she continues to spend her weekends equipping herself with information about canine rehabilitation and giving physiotherapy to dogs to make a difference in as many pets as possible.
Alopa shares how challenging it is to convince clients for post-surgical rehabilitation. The typical comments they bombard her with include, “nature will take care of it”, “it’s OK if he stays the way he is, anyway all he does is sleep at home”, “I really don’t have time to take care of my own health, let alone my dog’s health”. When faced with these insensitive comments, it takes all of Alopa’s patience to explain that dogs are playful by nature and restricting their mobility will take a toll on their physical as well as mental health.
The power of physiotherapy is for real and it was really impressive to know from Alopa that a dog, having undergone a spinal decompression surgery, was provided physiotherapy and took only six months to walk almost normally, whereas those without any rehabilitation might take up to two years to go ahead without dragging their hind legs.
One other thing that Alopa finds challenging is communicating with dogs. It’s not easy to convince a dog to perform movements the way you want to, but with patience and repeated effort Alopa is now able to understand how they have to be cajoled into trusting her. Without doubt, the bigger challenge continues to be people, who are sometimes so set in their ways and thoughts that even the most convincing arguments and facts fail to impress them.
With the mind-set gradually changing, Alopa hopes that more people come forward and support canine rehabilitation and that veterinarians do their bit to promote the topic as well. At the end of the day, the combined effort will help put an end to the misery and pain in at least a few of our precious furry friends’ lives!