AAHA Press' new book, Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications, is the only full-length book on canine medical massage. We recently sat down with author Narda Robinson, DO, DVM, MS, FAA MA, to ask a few burning questions.

Robinson graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe in 1982, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1988, and the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 1997 with a doctorate of veterinary medicine and in 2005 with a master's degree in biomedical sciences. She is the director of the CSU Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine.

AAHA Press: Isn't massage for dogs more like glorified petting?
Robinson: There may appear to be some overlap between what we typically consider as petting a dog in that we may run our hands over the dog's head and neck or knead muscles along the back. However, actual medical massage utilizes a variety of techniques designed with certain outcomes in mind and tailoring them to a specific diagnosis.

AAHA Press: How does medical massage differ from other types of massage?
Robinson: Most folks who are familiar with massage may think about their own massage treatments they've had for general pain and stress, or even reflect on events where dogs receive massage, such as agility trials or other competitions. Medical massage differs from these in that the animal has received an actual diagnosis, either from the treating veterinarian or the therapist who performs the treatment after a veterinarian has diagnosed the animal. In addition to providing relaxation and reducing general discomfort, the medical massage practitioner identifies specific target outcomes (e.g., release of myofascial restriction in the flexor compartment of the antebrachium) as part of the goals achieved by the treatment. 

AAHA Press: Who can perform medical massage on dogs? 
Robinson: Each state carries its own regulations on who can perform massage for dogs. Medical massage is not regulated differently from other types of massage for animals.

AAHA Press: Will those without a medical background be able to learn from this book?
Robinson: Canine Medical Massage was designed for individuals who do not have familiarity with medical conditions that affect dogs. While you may not grasp every concept, this book will provide information on cases that responded to massage and some overall considerations about when it is appropriate for dogs to receive massage.

AAHA Press: Will the reader be certified in massage after reading this book? 
Robinson: No. This book is designed to be used as an adjunct for those who receive comprehensive instruction in canine medical massage.

AAHA Press: Does this book teach the reader to practice massage on dogs?
Robinson: This book was not designed as a stand-alone text on canine massage. We urge you to seek a comprehensive course in medical massage for animals that includes supervised, hands-on instruction. 

AAHA Press: What knowledge or skills will a veterinarian gain from this book? 
Robinson: A veterinarian will gain an appreciation of the scientific basis of massage as well as evidence that supports its applications for a wide variety of problems. We review anatomy and interrelate structure and function--the basis of understanding the value of manual therapy in medical care. That is, problems in the structure impair the body's proper function. Conversely, dysfunction (i.e., physiologic abnormalities) will, over time, produce changes in the structure that informed palpation can identify. 

That said, the bulk of the book discusses specific treatment techniques involving mainly Swedish massage maneuvers. It introduces the reader to sample massage sequences that illustrate the art of incorporating myriad manual therapy motions into a fluid and seamless treatment, targeting many different ailments and pain problems. 

AAHA Press: How can veterinarians use this book to expand their practice? 
Robinson: The information contained in this book will help veterinarians become better clinicians and diagnosticians due to the emphasis on the basics of medicine. Health care workers who enjoy their work seem to be more likely to remain engaged in their chosen career and provide better care. Many readers will also want to become connected with their patients, addressing problems earlier, more comprehensively, and on a number of levels. Readers may also be working in rehabilitation and sports medicine clinics and are seeking a scientifically grounded text that can provide pointers on how to safely and effectively include massage in their practice. 


Order your copy of Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications from the AAHA online bookstore.    

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