What is Functional Osteopathy?

What is functional osteopathy?

By Dustie Houchin MBA, MPAO, SPOP, BSc.Hons Ost, PGCHE.

Osteopathy (for humans and animals) is often misunderstood because the word Osteopathy is less commonplace than the word Physiotherapy – although there are significant academic and clinical cross-overs in training and practice. Additionally, few realise that osteopaths (for humans) are Allied Healthcare Professionals and work both privately and in the NHS, and that osteopathic BSc Hons. and M.Ost. degrees are science and evidence based, just like Physiotherapy (taking 4-5 years to qualify). Furthermore, Osteopathy is a regulated profession in most countries of the world.

In the UK, Osteopathy for humans is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council and Animal Osteopathy is recognised as one of the three main clinical disciplines voluntarily regulated by the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners in the UK (RAMP). 

Functional Osteopathy for animals is a branch of physical therapy for animals, with a strong clinical focus on assessing the whole animal and their environment to attain a successful long-term outcome. 

Osteopathy for animals is a highly integrated form of manual medicine for animals. which is founded on a solid understanding of functional medicine and osteopathic concepts and principles. It identifies the impact of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors on an animal’s health and utilises a clinical process of elimination and osteopathic testing to localise the underlying cause of dis-ease. Practitioners of this science and art, use techniques to treat all aspects of the body through extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This allows them to treat the whole being, from the muscles and bones to the organs (viscera) and neurological system.

Animal osteopaths work closely with vets and other veterinary professionals to ensure the very best care for the animal patient. They seek to find for that, which is within the body (such as neuromuscular dysfunction or visceral imbalance) and that which is outside the body (such as environmental factors and diet). Collectively, they find long-term solutions. 

Training to become a fully qualified Functional Practitioner/Osteopath with AOI takes 4-5 years and AOI courses are taught at Higher Education Level 6 & 7. All who join us, come from a clinical or therapeutic background (e.g. Vets, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists/ACPAT etc.). Training includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, biomechanics, animal behaviour, palpation skills, clinical assessment, and a wide range of therapeutic techniques. In addition, our students are taught soft-skills, such a communication, marketing, business management and finance. This ensures that they leave our programme fully equipped and ready to be competent, safe practitioners.

In the UK, the title Animal Osteopath is preserved for human practitioners who have undertaking a structured pathway of education in the field of animal osteopathy. This situation is not however, exclusive, and some non-human trained practitioners (such as vets or Physiotherapists) can also train in animal osteopathy, but often use a different title, such as a Canine or Equine Functional Practitioner or Functional Bodyworker. Consequently, it is wise for animal owners to look closely at the qualifications held by practitioner before pursuing an appointment, so that you are clear about the training that the therapists have acquired. 

AOI clinical courses are taught by highly experienced Animal Osteopaths, Veterinary Physiotherapists, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Behaviourists. 

Our courses are validated by the European School of Osteopathy, Kent, UK and all practical and written summative assessments are evaluated by an External Examiner. This ensures transparency across our programmes.