Equistar Rehab takes a unique approach on physical rehabilitation by providing services directly to you and your horse at your barn or veterinary clinic. I work with each horse to create a personalized home-care plan, combined with professional treatments, to help restore proper balance and performance. The home-care plan stresses the importance of establishing a therapeutic exercise routine that you can work on with your horse between visits. In the event of an injury or lameness, I will work closely with your veterinarian to provide the best treatment for optimal recovery.
Physical rehabilitation is not a substitute for proper veterinary care but rather a complimentary therapy. The best outcome for the horse is achieved when all parties collaborate - veterinarian, physical rehabilitation specialist, farrier, trainer, and of course, owner.
Melissa graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in 2005 with a B.S. in animal science, minor in equine science, and dual concentrations in nutrition and anatomy/physiology. She studied at the Animal Rehabilitation Institute in Florida earning her certificate in both equine (2012) and canine (2007) physical rehabilitation.
Melissa has worked with horses for over 20 years and has competed in show jumping, eventing, and dressage, with the later being her main focus. She has 10 years experience working in the veterinary industry as a surgery and neurology nurse at some of the most prestigious veterinary clinics in the country.
Melissa’s love and compassion for the horse, their owners, and the amazing living body are evident in her everyday work. And if you ask her, it’s not work - it’s love!
The goal of physical rehabilitation is to restore the body back to optimal function. Soft tissue injuries, fractures, joint disease, neurological disorders, and muscle imbalances are all reasons the body's musculoskeletal system becomes abnormal. While the body does an adequate job healing itself, physical rehabilitation can help shorten recovery time and improve tissue healing. Rehabilitation is appropriate for all horses whether injured, having performance issues, aging, or youngsters needing balance and strength training.
Your initial consultation involves a functional assessment where your horse’s conformation, muscle balance and tone, and gait are evaluated. Conformation can play an important role in your horse’s current and future soundness. The musculoskeletal system is evaluated through palpation, range of motion, joint compressions, and visual inspection. Gait is analyzed both on the ground and under saddle, if applicable. Please allow 2 hours for the initial visit.
In addition, Equistar Rehab offers a pre-purchase functional assessment designed to be used in conjunction with a traditional pre-purchase exam performed by a veterinarian. Combining services helps evaluate your future horse on it's clinical soundness and functional use.
A veterinary referral is required prior to assessment of an unsound horse.
Bodywork involves various massage techniques and manual treatments including myofacial release, deep tissue work, and stretching.
Therapeutic exercises are the corner stone of physical rehabilitation. They are meant to be both functional and fun for horse and owner. The goal of therapeutic exercise is to help strengthen specific muscle groups and relieve pain in affected joints and tissue. Prescribed exercises are specific to each horse and will change over time since every horse is an individual, living creature.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) utilizes a high frequency to interrupt the body’s pain pathways. It is excellent to help relieve back and neck pain.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) utilizes a current to elicit a muscle contraction. It is beneficial for combating muscle atrophy, increasing circulation, and neuromuscular re-education.
Kinesio Taping® is a therapeutic taping method designed to normalize muscle function and enhance various tissues and physiologic pathways. Kinesio® Tex Tape helps increase circulation and gently massage tissue by lifting the skin. Your horse can wear it for up to 3-5 days and have it replaced as needed. Kinesio Taping® can help treat a variety of issues.
Slow motion video capture (MoCap) helps fine tune gait analysis by allowing the examiner to see the horse move up to 200x slower than in real time. This slow motion footage is especially helpful when analyzing hoof placement, limb weight distribution, and gait symmetry.
"Melissa began working with one of our most difficult rehab cases last year and her work has exceeded our expectations. In the past we rehabbed horses "the old fashion way" using just hand walks and time under saddle. Equistar's philosophy of adding equine physical rehabilitation, including stretching, deep tissue work and manual therapy to the rehabilitation progression has greatly improved our horse's level of comfort and decreasing stiffness. In addition, Melissa is extremely communicative before, during and after her visits, helping take a holistic view of the horse's progression with our veterinarians, coaches and riders." ~ Stanford Equestrian Team, CA
"Melissa had been working with my horse for the past few months, and I definitely see huge improvement! No more stiff neck muscles, and the core work she has been doing is helping him carry himself in a proper frame with no back soreness anymore! He is a pleasure to ride these days!" ~ Sharon Darrow, CA
"Equistar Rehab did an extremely thorough exam of our horse 'Bert' - from ears to tail! We were very pleased with how knowledgeable Melissa was, and she gave us some great exercises to help us lengthen his stride. Two thumbs up!" ~ Sarah Amspacher, PA
Melissa Aden, B.S. Animal Science CCRA
Equine Physical Rehabilitation Specialist
Redwood City, California