My research is driven by a great interest in both animals and people. My best childhood summers were spent at my uncle´s dairy farm outside Sundsvall. Being with animals and at least 15 people sitting down at the table for well-earned meals was a perfect combination.
A specific interest in humans and sports medicine led me to study physiotherapy and work as a human physiotherapist for nearly five years. Thereafter I joined the veterinary medicine program at SLU. I did my PhD on equine rehabilitation including both experimental and clinical studies, defining models of explanation and clinical efficacy. After defending my thesis, I had the opportunity to work for a year in Sydney, Australia and when arriving home continued with research and lecturing in my area of expertise at SLU.
Photo 1. Our new 3 D visualization table for virtual dissections (photo Carin Wrange)
I am a member of the movement mechanics group at SLU which in recent years has carried out very successful research. I am also a member of the newly formed "Cat research cluster" at SLU.
Photo 2. The study of static magnets with the algometer and temperature registration. Photo: Anna Edner
Photo 3. Goniometry of the carpal flexion. Photo: Yvonne Liljebrink
Research in veterinary rehabilitation and functional anatomy
My main professional focus is to combine my expertise in physiotherapy and veterinary medicine, with the goal to expand the knowledge base in veterinary rehabilitation and functional anatomy- a relatively new area of research. This has partly been done by working in the International Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy and helping to organize their international conferences.
Main topic of research - Evaluation and rehabilitation of painful conditions in dogs, cats and horses
The research focuses on the assessment and treatment of pain and physical dysfunction, to increase the wellbeing of cats, dogs and horses. One focal point is the design and validation of assessment tools. So far we have investigated:
- passive range of joint motion with goniometer in horses (photo 3)
- mechanical pain threshold with algometer in dogs and horses (photo 2)
- motion analysis with accelerometers and pressure sensitive mat in cats and dogs
- joint swelling and muscle area with measuring tape and slide calliper in dogs (photo 4)
- pain assessment with pain- and daily activities-questionnaires in cats
- complex physical functions with functional tests in dogs
These studies have provided tools to objectively measure the efficacy of therapeutic interventions, such as stretching and passive range of joint motion.
Photo 4. Slide caliper and measuring tape for the measurement of joint swelling. Photo: Emma Lövenhamn
Pressure sensitive mat system
An important technique is the pressure sensitive mat system that enables us to present reference values for different gait parameters and to correlate these with the level of daily activities in cats and dogs. The pressure mat together with pain and activities of daily life questionnaires improve the diagnostics of both canine and feline lameness. The technique can also be used in larger animals, such as pig and cow.
Clinical efficacy of rehabilitation methods
The other part of the research focuses on the clinical efficacy of various rehabilitation methods. For example, studies have been conducted on the CO2 laser, Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation, and static magnets. The article on static magnets was selected, in July 2014, by Equine Veterinary Journal´s Clinical Reviewer as one of the most clinically relevant articles to appear on EVJ's Early View section. This was a great encouragement and showed the importance of this area.
For the near future, we will continue to evaluate new equipment and rehabilitation protocols. Research conducted together with three PhD students, as well as studies on muscle recruitment during therapeutic exercises will be investigated in order to improve the standard of rehabilitation.
Present and planned research
Osteoarthritis in cats
The aim is to develop more sensitive diagnostic tools for OA in cats by use of a pressure sensitive mat (photo 5), diagnostic imaging (CT), pain and quality of life questionnaires, and genetic and biochemical markers. It is also to investigate the pain relieving effect of different pharmaceuticals.
Photo 5. On the Catwalk. PhD student Sarah Stadig introduces a cat to the pressure mat system. Photo: Cecilia Ley
Motion analysis in dogs with a new user-friendly sensor system.
The aim is to design and develop a user-friendly inertial measurement unit system, based on accelerometer technique, in order to improve the diagnostics and treatment of musculoskeletal problems in the dog.
Muscle recruitment during therapeutic exercises.
The aim is to investigate which muscles are involved in different therapeutic exercises in order to improve future rehabilitation protocols.
Pedagogic study of the implementation of a 3 D visualization Table in veterinary medicine education
The aim is to investigate the possible pedagogic advantages of a 3 d visualization table in anatomy and diagnostic imaging education.
Different assessment tools to measure physical dysfunction such as pressure sensitive mat technique, algometry, accelerometer technique, EMG, 3 d visualization table (photo 1 above), pain and quality of life questionnaires, functional tests, slide caliper.
Veterinary Rehabilitation: Hilary Clayton, Anna Hielm Björkman, Lesley Goff, Catherine McGowan, Heli Hyytiäinen, David Levine, Darryl Millis, Narelle Stubbs.
Biomechanics: Annika Bergström, Agneta Egenvall, Maria Theres Engels (PhD student), Constanza Gomez-Alvares, Pia Gustås, Elin Hernlund (PhD student), Miriam Kjörk, Kjerstin Pettersson, Marie Rodin, Lars Roepstorff.
Research on cats: Duncan Lascelles, Cecilia Ley, Charles Ley, Sofia Mikko, Sarah Stadig (PhD student), Bodil Ström Holst, Malin Öhlund.
3 D Visualisation Table: Kerstin Hansson, Henrik von Euler, Pia Haubro Andersen, Odd Höglund, Anders Persson, Veronika Rohndal, Margareta Uhlhorn
Prize winning teaching in anatomy and veterinary rehabilitation
My teaching is mainly in anatomy and veterinary rehabilitation for students from several disciplines (veterinary, animal nursing, equine science, animal sciences and physical therapy) and at diploma, master and postgraduate levels. The teaching has received the VMF student prize 2010 and Veterinary Nurses student prize 2012.
I have produced web-based learning material in osteology, myology and palpation of the canine and equine together with SLU´s Learning Development Centre (UCL) and have a collaboration with Royal Veterinary College, London on E-earning and the web site Wikivet. Thanks to Swedish Research council funding we have purchased a Sectra 3 D visualisation table, which will enable us to improve educational methods and hopefully reduce the amount of dissection material used. This is done in collaboration with Linköping University and Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization (CMIV), and we serve as a reference center for Sectra. In the future, we will develop additional educational material in functional anatomy and veterinary rehabilitation.
Other professional assignments
- Past-president and member of the Board of Directors for theInternational Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
- Member of SLU´s "Committee for Horse related questions"
- Inspector for the veterinary student union
- Member of the Interim Board of Directors working for a European College of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine
- Member of the SECTRA advisory board for medical education
Engell, M.T., Hernlund, E., Egenvall, A., Bergh, A., Clayton, H.M., and Roepstorff, L. "Does foot pronation in unmounted horseback riders affect pelvic movement during walking?" Comparative exercise physiology, In Press. 2015
Stadig, S. and Bergh, A. 2014. Gait and jump analysis in healthy cats using a pressure mat system, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Jun;17 (6):523-9.
Bergh, A., Egenvall, A., Olsson, E., Uhlhorn, M. and Rhodin, M, 2014. Evaluation of skin displacement in the equine neck", DOI: 10.3920/CEP143003
Edner, A., Elsing, G., Broström, H., Lindberg, L.E. and Bergh, A. 2014. Do static magnets induce changes in muscular blood flow, skin temperature and muscular tension in horses? DOI: 10.1111/evj.1229.
Olsén, L., Bremer, H., Olofsson, K., Bröjer, J., Bondesson, U., Bergh, A., Nostell, K., Broström, H., Bengtsson, B. and Ingvast- Larsson, C. 2013. Intramuscular administration of sodium benzylpenicillin in horses as an alternative to procaine benzylpenicillin. Research in Veterinary Science, 95 (1), 212–218.
Liljebrink, Y. and Bergh, A. 2010. Goniometry: Is it a reliable tool to monitor passive joint range of motion in horses? Equine Veterinary Journal, 42 676-682.
Bergh, A., Nordlöf, H. and Essén- Gustavsson, B. 2010. Evaluation of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on fibre characteristics and oxidative capacity in equine skeletal muscles Equine Veterinary Journal 42, 671-675. A*
Bergh, A. Physical treatment of the equine athlete. Chapter in textbook "Equine sports medicine and surgery" 2nd ed., Ed. Kaneps, 2013
Levine, D., Adamsson, C., and Bergh, A. Veterinary rehabilitation. Chapter in textbook "Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy" 2nd ed., Eds. Levine and Millis, 2013.
Bergh, A. Chapter in the Swedish government commission report "Treatment of Animals with Alternative Medicine" (SOU 2001:16).