Former NHS physio turns attention to helping animals - Veterinary Practice
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Former NHS physio turns attention to helping animals

A physiotherapist who spent almost two decades treating humans for the NHS is now turning her attention to helping pets in need as part of a new dedicated veterinary physiotherapy service

Gillian Leung, originally from Glasgow, worked as a physiotherapist in human healthcare with the NHS before transferring her skills to the animal world and retraining to launch an innovative veterinary physiotherapy service to dogs recovering from injury or struggling with mobility. 

The expert service will be based at Linnaeus-owned Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital in Pollokshaws, Glasgow, which is part of Pets‘n’Vets, with Gillian saying she was living her dream by focusing on helping people’s treasured pets with their movement and flexibility. 

She said: “I spent almost 20 years in the NHS as a physiotherapist and, for the last 10 of those years, I was seriously thinking about switching to treating animals. I have had dogs all my life and they really are my passion. My own dog, Tess, is the inspiration for the switch from human to animal physiotherapy and is also how I originally became a client of Pets‘n’Vets.

“Then, in 2018, my family and I moved to Edinburgh and it was just too difficult for me to continue my job in Glasgow, especially with two-year-old twins to look after and three dogs! That was the moment I decided to go for it. I applied for the Postgraduate Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Liverpool University.

“This is one of only two courses in the UK recognised by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy, which is a special interest group of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

“There are a lot of transferable skills and knowledge from working with humans but there are some subtle differences, too. I had to ‘unlearn’ some of my training for treating humans and learn a whole new approach to treating animals – the major difference is obviously a person can tell you what’s wrong and where but an animal can’t!

That’s an additional challenge but I’m so glad I made the switch. Working with animals is amazing. It really is my dream job and I’m so pleased to be delivering this new physiotherapy service at Roundhouse.”

Pets’n’Vets was founded 50 years ago in the Southside of Glasgow and is now the hub for seven veterinary practices in and around the city and Lanarkshire, all operating under the Pets‘n’Vets banner. 

Ross Allan, Pets‘n’Vets clinical director, said: “This is an important and innovative new service which will further enhance the range of treatments we offer at the hospital. Gillian is highly experienced and has a keen interest in using her expertise to treat our patients. The team is delighted she has agreed to take on this new role and expand the expert care we offer.” 

Gillian will be holding clinics at Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital, initially focusing on dogs but with the aim to broaden the service to include cats, rabbits, hamsters and other companion pets. 

She said there was a growing number of pets being referred for physiotherapy, adding: “The most common reasons are to aid recovery from soft tissue injuries, to help with the management of osteoarthritis and treatment before or after surgery. There’s a real focus, too, on helping with pain management, assisting pets to recover from injury or illness and to improve mobility in older animals. 

“Physiotherapy can be used to help dogs of all ages, breeds and lifestyles to maximise their quality of life using a range of techniques including manual therapy, electrotherapy and therapeutic exercise programmes. I’ve also helped with the management of cases after fracture repair or reconstructive surgery as well as with palliative care. It’s wonderful when you feel you are making a real difference.”

For more information on Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital and the services it offers, visit the Pets’n’Vets website.

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