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Month: January 2019

Unparalleled Support: The Role of Veterinary Technicians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic

Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC), based in Wellington, FL, is home to world-renowned surgeons, board-certified specialists, and state-of-the-art diagnostic technology. In addition, PBEC is home to over 30 veterinary technicians who provide comprehensive support to the veterinarians they work alongside.

PBEC takes pride in the diligence of the technicians who work in collaboration with the veterinarians to maintain the daily functionality of the clinic.

The typical responsibilities of an equine veterinary technician include:

  • Manage veterinarians’ schedules
  • Stock veterinarians’ mobile unit with supplies, equipment, and medications
  • Accompany veterinarians on barn calls and emergency response
  • Consult on cases with a veterinarian
  • Care for and monitor horses admitted to the on-site clinic hospital
  • Plan patient care and follow-up
  • Oversee billing and invoices

According to Dr. Marilyn Connor, veterinary technicians are the right hands of the doctors they work with. PBEC employs over 30 technicians and the hands-on experience they have access to gives them invaluable opportunities to learn.

“One thing that is special about PBEC is that we have a full staff of technicians day and night,” said Dr. Connor, who first joined PBEC as an intern and now works as a full-time veterinarian. “They are the ones feeding and caring for horses, administering medications that do not require a doctor, and assisting veterinarians on cases. During the peak of the season, there are roughly 40 doctors with very diverse caseloads for technicians to learn and gain experience from.”

Yessica Arrua is one PBEC technician who has become an accomplice for veterinarian Dr. Natalia Novoa and the clinic in general. Arrua, 22, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but now calls Florida home and is a pivotal part of the PBEC team.

5 Questions for Palm Beach Equine Clinic Yessica Arrua

1. How did you first get involved with horses?

I have been around horses since I was three years old. Both my parents have been working with horses since before I can remember. My dad works with polo ponies and my mom with dressage horses. They both traveled to Florida to pursue work with horses here and that is how I came to be a resident of Wellington and a team member with Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

2. What are your day-to-day responsibilities at PBEC?

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Yessica Arrua
Palm Beach Equine Clinic Yessica Arrua (left) with Dr. Natalia Novoa (right).

I work with Dr. Natalia Novoa, who focuses on both traditional veterinary medicine and alternative therapies like chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture. My day-to-day responsibilities include making sure our truck is stocked with the equipment and medications that we may need. I also look after all the invoices in our system on a monthly basis. Overall, my role is to ensure Natalia has everything she needs and is prepared for our farm call visits.

3. What do you enjoy most about working with equine veterinarians and the horses they treat?

Other than being around horses every day, which is the best part of my job, I really enjoy being able to experience all the different types of cases that come through Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Especially during the winter season, we see so many interesting cases from emergencies to routine exams.

4. Do you have a favorite case?

My favorite cases to work on are the ones where horses have anhidrosis, which we see often in the Florida heat.

There is no universal or proven treatment for anhidrosis, but people often try salts, electrolytes, thyroid supplements, and even beer. But, Dr. Novoa has been able to help these horses with acupuncture. We had one case where the horse didn’t respond to any traditional treatments but started sweating right away during our first acupuncture treatment.

What is Anhidrosis? According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), anhidrosis is a compromised ability to sweat in the face of exercise or high ambient temperatures. This is a potentially dangerous condition for horses, especially working horses, because they thermoregulate (maintain a consistent body temperature) primarily through sweating.

5. What can we find you doing when you aren’t working at PBEC?

You will find me at the beach, reading, and spending time with my family!

5 Steps to Chiropractic Adjustment with Palm Beach Equine Clinic Dr. Natalia Novoa

Palm Beach Equine Clinic combines the best of conventional and alternative medicine to provide comprehensive, full-body care to both sport and companion horses. Dr. Natalia Novoa specializes in utilizing the best of both approaches to provide unmatched results.

Dr. Natalia Navoa
Palm Beach Equine Clinic Veterinarian Dr. Natalia Navoa

“I believe that treating issues with both alternative therapies and conventional medicine is a perfect approach,” said Dr. Novoa, who has been a full-time member of Palm Beach Equine Clinic since 2011. “We can’t exchange one for other, and the combination usually makes for a great treatment plan.

“A chiropractic adjustment is an alternative therapy that I absolutely recommend,” continued Dr. Novoa. “It’s very useful for a horse that has injuries or soreness issues, but it’s also something that is very important for maintenance. You want to prevent problems instead of treat them. If a misalignment happens, that creates incorrect friction, which then leads to pain in the joints, muscle soreness, and stress on the tendons and ligaments, possibly leading to a soft tissue injury. Another advantage of chiropractic adjustments is that it is useful for FEI competition horses because of the restriction on medications at that level. It’s a way we can effectively treat a problem and stay within the regulations.”

According to Dr. Novoa, veterinarians who incorporate chiropractic adjustments in their treatment options do so with their own style. She has developed a system that she finds most effective, and her secret is out!

Dr. Novoa’s five steps to a chiropractic adjustment:

1. Horse History

Patient history is a pillar of medicine, which provides pivotal information. 

“I always want to speak with riders, trainers, and grooms to get an understanding of what they feel and see,” said Dr. Novoa. “They spend the most time with the horse and know it the best. Sometimes, clients ask me to evaluate the horse first and tell them what I see and feel, which is when most people ask me if I have a crystal ball.”

While Dr. Novoa doesn’t travel with a crystal ball, her skill at reading a horse leads her to the second step. 

2. Scan Acupuncture Points – “Acuscan”

A scan of the acupuncture points on a horse, which Dr. Novoa calls an “acuscan,” is always her next move. She checks the main acupuncture points from head to tail by using her tool of choice – the round end of a needle cap. This allows her to put firm pressure on a very specific point and then evaluate the horse’s reaction to that pressure. 

“A reaction can indicate, for example, left front lameness or a sore neck, etc.,” said Dr. Novoa. “It’s not voodoo; you are piecing together your findings in the exams with the symptoms that the horse is presenting.” 

3.  Evaluate Horse Movement

After scanning the horse, Dr. Novoa likes to always see the horse move to dig deeper into any reactions she noticed while checking acupuncture points. She starts at the walk and then observes at the trot. 

“This is where I incorporate conventional medicine and supplement my evaluation with flexion tests or hoof testers depending on what I see,” said Dr. Novoa. “I want to produce the most detailed picture before moving on to the adjustment.”

4.  Make the Adjustments

“I adjust a horse the same way every time,” said Dr. Novoa. “This specific order ensures that I don’t miss anything and the horse receives a thorough adjustment of its entire body with special attention paid to any problem areas that I uncovered earlier in the process.” 

Check and adjust these 10 points:

Point 1: TMJ (temporomandibular joint)
Point 2: Poll and neck
See fig. 1 & 2 
Point 3: Front limbs, including lower limb joints and carpus (knee)
See fig. 3
Point 4: Shoulder and scapula on both sides to compare one with the other 
Point 5: Withers
Point 6: Pelvis and back
See fig. 4

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Point 7: Hind limbs, including hocks and stifles 
Point 8: Sternum and T1/T2 vertebrae
Point 9: Tongue release 
Point 10: Myofascial release if muscles spasm or a tense back and neck are indicated

5.  Secondary Acupuncture Point Scan

“The final piece of the puzzle is to scan the acupuncture points again to compare what we had before versus what we have after the adjustment,” said Dr. Novoa. “If there are still reactions, I may do acupuncture or electro-acupuncture and utilize a class four regenerative laser.”

After her secondary scan, Dr. Novoa formulates a short and long-term treatment plan. In her experience, adjustments last for four to six weeks before a follow-up adjustment is indicated. If certain chronic injuries are flaring up, a horse may need an earlier follow-up.

“It’s all about listening to the horse. They will always tell you what they need; you just have to listen!”

Dr. Novoa
Palm Beach Equine Clinic
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