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Iams Clinical Nutrition Symposium 2006 ‘Mobility: a multi-disciplined approach’

International experts discuss advances in veterinary and human medicine to improve mobility.

240 veterinarians from across Europe and South Africa joined The Iams Company Clinical Nutrition Symposium, ‘Mobility: a multi-disciplined approachÂ’, which took place between 10th and 12th of February in Montreux, Switzerland. A panel of renowned speakers from veterinary and human sciences presented seven lectures focused on the subject of recent scientific advances in mobility related issues in pets, chaired by John Houlton, Associate Lecturer, Cambridge University Veterinary School, UK. 

If mobility is impaired the first step is an accurate diagnosis. Prof. Dr. H. van Bree, expert in medical imaging and orthopaedic surgery, Veterinary Medicine, University of Ghent/Belgium, outlined the benefits but also the limitations of modern imaging techniques, now more and more available in veterinary medicine – with a caveat concerning over utilisation of high technology as seen in man. Major advances have also been made in veterinary arthroscopy in both the diagnosis, and treatment, of joint pathology, as presented by Dr. Jean-François Bardet, Referral Clinic, Paris/France.

Arthroscopy results in less surgical morbidity, less post-operative pain and faster recovery and he sees a bright future for arthroscopy in small animal surgery. Moving from diagnostics to treatment, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Matis, Vet School for Small Animal Surgery, University of Munich, Germany, provided impressive data on the state-of-the-art approach to traumatic joint disease, ligament trauma, hip dysplasia, elbow and stifle diseases - raising the question whether future techniques for joint preservation such as osteochondral autogenous transfers, cartilage cultures and autografts, stem cell technology and gene therapy could help increase mobility of arthrotic joints and reduce the enormous use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

In patients needing conservative treatment of joint disorders or rehabilitation after surgery, both physical therapy and therapeutic exercises have been proven beneficial in small animals and are slowly becoming an integral part of treatment. Dr. Barbara Bockstahler, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria, presented interesting therapeutic modalities of physiotherapy on video – the goal is pain reduction, improvement of range of motion, and maintaining and rebuilding muscle mass. Weight control and active owner involvement are keys for the success. A weight loss study with osteoarthritic overweight dogs at the Vienna Vet School clearly resulted in a significant improvement in lameness, results even improved with additional intensive physiotherapy.

The importance of nutrition and its impact on mobility was further discussed by Dr. Dan Carey, Research and Development, The Iams Company, Ohio, US. Two dietary components – energy and calcium – have been implicated as primary contributors to an increased incidence of skeletal disease in the growing large breed puppy. Managing these factors can help to enhance skeletal health as adults. Nutritional objectives for adult dogs with primary or secondary joint disease include managing obesity with innovative weight management diets, controlling eicosanoids and inflammation, and minimising the effects of injury through chondroprotective agents.
Other eminent speakers included Prof. Dr. Volkmar Jansson from the Orthopaedic Clinic of the University of Munich demonstrating how total hip and knee replacement can improve mobility in humans – emphasizing that healthy nutrition and physical fitness are crucial factors for the success of these procedures. Remaining in the area of human mobility, Dr. Erik Hemmingsson from the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, had interesting data and thoughts to share on how canine mobility can benefit human health.

Faced with the fact that national health services are now increasingly treating diseases triggered by detrimental lifestyles, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, that in theory are highly preventable, he is convinced that dogs (with suitable mobility) have a serious potential as catalysts for change of physical activity behaviour in humans. In a 6 months pilot study, involving overweight owners and dogs, regular walking resulted in 54 % of the owners losing weight.

The Iams Company Clinical Nutrition Symposium is a prime example for continuing education of the veterinary profession by providing practical knowledge on recent scientific advances for the improvement of mobility in cats and dogs. Weight management can be central to helping improve mobility, and The Iams Company with its innovative diets, is an ideal partner for safe and effective weight loss.

Proceedings and the Press Conference Consensus Report from The Iams Clinical Nutrition Symposium can be downloaded from

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