Animal Osteopathy within Europe

BeCam2.0 Congress, Rome

by Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, DO, Zoo Ost Limited

Within the pages of this magazine I have written extensively about the state of animal osteopathy as seen through our eyes in the UK, and from my own teaching perspective on the world’s stage. In this article I am going to give an outline into the state of play throughout Europe and Scandinavia via the incredible congress that took place at the very end of September this year.

Having left a very cold and wet UK at an unhealthy hour of the day I arrived at Fiumincini Airport in Rome where, along with two other UK osteopaths, I boarded my friends taxi van for the very “Italian” drive to the hotel. This usually involves Flo, my driver spending more time chatting, waving her arms around, and rolling a cigarette whilst simultaneously reading a text and checking the sat nav. Therefore it was no surprise that our other two colleagues were a little quiet in the back! The journey from the airport to the hotel took about an hour, but it was worth every minute.

Set on a beautiful hill top the Hotel Castrum Boccea was originally a medieval fort built to protect Rome itself from attack. What better place to host the congress, which was only the second international one to be held covering research and clinical applications of osteopathy, applied to animal patients.

There were delegates and speakers from Belgium, Finland Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Poland, UK, and the host nation of Italy. Subjects covered on the first day ranged from studies looking at increased joint range of motion as a result of fascial release treatment from Poland; measuring changes to the topline of the horse pre and post osteopathic treatment by Julia Brooks from the UK; the treatment approach to wildlife and exotics, including a case study on a gorilla treatment program by myself, applying osteopathy to the avian model from Italy, treatment of the dog again from a UK perspective, and a final plenary session looking at education standards and how RAMP (Register of Animal Manipulation Practitioners) was set up in the UK.

The evening began with a “Happy Hour” for the speakers where we sat around a massive circle of tables on one of the forts hidden terraces, and set about agreeing an international standard for animal osteopathy education and continuing professional development. Sadly the RAMP representatives left the meeting early without giving their input.

The rest of the international team carried on and within a short space of time there was an overall consensus that we could all start to work from.

Then the real festivities began and friendship bonds were further strengthened. It is incredible to think that even a few years ago this would never have happened with such genuine enthusiasm!

The second day was mostly given over to practical based workshops looking at treating the canine, equine, avian, and exotic patients.

No guesses for the one I ran, although I ended up combining it with the avian one, as we were sharing some of the same models! In fact ours, and the Vluggen Institute’s equine one were so over subscribed that some of the organisers appeared and tried to lure delegates away to one of the others that was less well attended.

For the workshops, the hotel had opened up various areas of the grounds and conference rooms for our use. This saw horses happily grazing on the terrace lawns high above the surrounding countryside, and dogs being kept in the shade of another section, whilst Matteus (my superb Italian IFOA colleague) and I had a superb location where we could lecture, demonstrate, and guide examination and treatment of various reptiles, including a very angry boa constrictor, several tortoise, numerous chickens, a gorgeous European Eagle Owl, and some indigenous wildlife that my good friend Francesco and I caught in the hotel grounds (and safely released again afterwards).

The day raced by with Matteus and I guiding our group through safe examination and treatment techniques for our types of patient. Across from our area we could see the horses being put through their paces by Julia Brookes and Janek Vluggen.

Matteus and I felt we had the best spot as we also had a throne at our disposal, which of course ended up being made good use of!

I did have to keep pinching myself as the whole setting was more like a James Bond film set, and made for a most convivial atmosphere.

Eventually it was time to wrap up each of the workshops and then we were invited to reconvene in the plenary hall, which I should add looked like it was once a banquet hall, complete with authentic fixtures and fittings.

Once seated again, and with the requisite headphones for translation, our hosts rounded off the congress by getting each of us that had helped draft the consensus on animal osteopathic education to read, amend, and then once in agreement sign the single document listing our names and organisations that we represented.

So it was that I found myself as the opening signatory, on behalf of Zoo Ost Ltd., of this ground breaking manuscript which has set aside differences in each organisation, in order to preserve the core values of osteopathic medicine, and not allow us to be lost into some blend of musculoskeletal (MSK) therapists. This is not to denigrate any other profession. On the contrary, we are all of the firm belief that we ALL have core values, and we all have skill sets that need preserving. In the same way that there are so many different species of animals and birds that we treat, so there is a need for all of our different professions. For too long in the UK we have allowed ourselves, and our professions to be manipulated by others. What we do is incredible. What we still have to discover and achieve will also be incredible. I don’t think we should sell ourselves short. Not for any egotistical reason, but for the benefit of our patients and future generations of practitioners.



Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, DO is Clinical Director on the MSc Animal Osteopathy programme, run through the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, Oxon.

He also lectures nationally and internationally; runs unique wildlife workshops; and is a prolific writer, presenter and broadcaster. His radio show “The Missing Link” on Corinium Radio is the only one of it’s kind and is rapidly gaining a loyal listenership. You can catch his earlier shows, and specialist podcasts by following his Mixcloud page titled Tony Nevin.

For more than 6 years he chaired the Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice (SOAP) before it rebranded and became the Association of

Animal Osteopaths (AAO).

For more information contact Tony at

Telephone +44 7831 759339.

Tony Nevin