A New Equine “Lameness CPR” Is Emerging

shutterstock_224017807Equine veterinary medicine exists because horses get sick or injured, and owners love them. Human medicine has shown people recuperate faster when fit, and veterinary medicine has complemented this finding with correct rehabilitation for the horse. It is at the heart of every sport horse injury, second only, of course, to correct diagnosis and prescription. A new CPR for equines is emerging:

Correct diagnosis, Precise prescription and Rapid rehabilitation

A veterinarian-supervised rehabilitation facility, with dedicated personnel for each treatment is essential. Therein, every tool currently available can be used to ascertain and heal the depth and breadth of equine lameness.

All owners expect correct diagnosis and veterinarians know … correct diagnosis can be tricky.
Many continue to trust age-old lameness prescriptions for stall-rest and in-hand exercise following MRIs or injury, and veterinarians know … we can do better because twenty-first century tools are available.
Few clients have enough time in the day to handle a horse confined to stall-rest with only in-hand exercise, so even correctly executing such a prescription is not always feasible.

A veterinarian-supervised rehab facility is the answer. Proven more effective, it more rapidly returns the horse to work. This same facility may also be chosen for the serious athlete after competition, even without injury, to restore balance and build muscle, especially in the power train: the hind-end.

Options are numerous and improvement is monitored through a Lameness Locator. When combined with digital radiography and ultrasonography, enhanced precision of the target for treatment is obtained.

When acute injury is followed by Regenerative Laser Therapy and/or Shockwave Therapy, the results are astounding, even to the seasoned practitioner: general healing is quicker because pain and inflammation from muscle spasm are diminished, tissue repair can be almost scar-less, and range of motion is increased. In addition to tendon, ligament and tissue repair, circulation improves, and acupuncture points are stimulated, making the work of certified veterinarian-chiropractors and acupuncturists more expedient. Horses can’t speak for themselves but humans consistently report tension relief conducive to healing, making certified equine massage therapy a vital complement to the prescription.

Once sound, the correct conditioning prescription follows. The hot-walker, treadmill or polo-sized cardio conditioning track, each in turn, replace the former in-hand walking and lunging.

Twenty minutes on an actual treadmill at an incline rebuilds and strengthens muscle and endurance. Weighted ankle bracelets and saddle may also be prescribed. Riders seeking the competitive advantage of a well-muscled hind-end for strenuous show rings, rave over the results in 4-6 weeks. Since this particular routine is more strenuous, the preparatory warm-up is literally 20 minutes with Solarium and Vibration Therapy to relieve soreness and stiffness. Again, acupuncture points are stimulated.

Much like aquatic exercise for the human, Aqua-Pacer Water Treadmill Therapy is the single most effective and the lowest impact for rehabilitation. However, it must be noted not every horse readily accepts these tools. Consequently, dedicated personnel monitor each horse closely during treatments.

A host of other therapy options include Shockwave, Regenerative Laser, Stem-cell, the Pessoa Lunging Rig, and Certified Kinesio taping.

In short, at 3H we are believers: Our combined experience as equine vets and horseback riders have shaped a strong personal belief:
• all horses can benefit from these tools
• the injured horse deserves nothing less
• the serious equine athlete’s career , and that of his rider, are at stake.

Restoring balance to the overworked or injured muscles of the whole horse is essential IF….the goal is what is best for the horse: reaching full athletic potential. For the first time, technological advances of the twenty-first century are making this possible. At 3H we believe we would be remiss if we did not take full advantage of these advantages because, quite simply, both our patients and our clients deserve the best options available. The need for a new, “Lameness CPR” for equines is emerging: The Rehabilitation Facility.

1. Pain causes muscle spasm
2. Muscle spasm leads to decreased range of motion
3. Decreased range of motion creates muscle weakness
4. Muscle weakness results in joint instability