The area of animal musculoskeletal therapies has been a confusing minefield for many years. Many vets are not sure who does what, why and with what qualifications, so where on earth does that leave owners? It is obvious that some clarity is needed in the industry. Ironically, the desire for clarity has led to even further confusion.
Many therapists were taken by surprise when an article in Horse and Hound announced the launch of the Register for Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners, or RAMP. (See insert). RAMP was described as the gold standard and backed by vets.
This gold standards was to be reserved only for practitioners that had trained on humans first. Previously when courses, techniques and demand were limited it was a requirement to train in human treatment before going on to train to treat animals. For many years the high standard of animal specific courses has made this a redundant necessity.
A large majority of established animal musculoskeletal therapist are termed ‘Animal First’ therapists and have not trained in human treatment. The architects of RAMP initially chose to exclude this field of practitioners from their register. Instead of encouraging unity in the industry even further division looked imminent.
The vet-targeted marketing done by RAMP discouraged the referral to anyone that was not on or eligible to be on the register. As veterinary permission is needed for any treatment to be performed on an animal, some practitioner’s livelihoods became effected by this detrimental misinformation. Individuals and associations swiftly expressed their dislike and concerns over the register. RAMP was then opened to Animal First practitioners.
Concerns were raised over the mildly misleading credit claimed by the register with some of the statements used. RAMP has been set up as a response to research by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It is not, however, supported or endorsed by DEFRA. RAMP also claims to be backed by vets. This may be correct for an indiscriminate number of individual vets but it is not accredited or endorsed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for the veterinary profession.
Although the introduction of RAMP has not run smoothly, it does, to a degree, serve a purpose. However, having looked at the register, some people listed have trained for a diploma in one year and others have been in education for 5 years to achieve a master’s degree. There is no indication as to an individual’s specific qualification, course taken, or treatment method used other than the sub categories of Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy. Owners and vets should still do their research.
The problem hasn’t been solved but another unaccredited list has been created.
If I chose to do so, I would be eligible to register with RAMP. However, I could also register with the International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT) and the Association for the Scientific Study of Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapy (ASSVAP) and the Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists (IRVAP). I could then call myself Rebecca Stroud MSc BSc MAA IAAT ASSVAP IRVAP RAMP! They are all unaccredited voluntary registers.
Currently I am a member of the McTimoney Animal Association (MAA). The RAMP register requires no more or less qualification, insurance or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) than the MAA’s already high standard.
Another register is in the pipeline. One whose primary aim is to be accredited by the RCVS. In short there are many, many changes occurring in the industry and it’s going to be an interesting year. I personally will be waiting to see what the near future holds before making any decisions.
I have seen claims of practitioners being ‘selected’ to be on the RAMP register. This implies an element of chosen elitism that is deceiving on their part. The register is a voluntary list; you pay your money, you go on the list.
Qualifications don’t always tally with ability, experience and talent and please be aware that letters after names don’t always directly represent qualifications. It is still a minefield out there and probably always will be. Wherever, or however you find a practitioner, always make sure that they are qualified in what they are practicing and insured, as for now there is still no short cut for doing your research.