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Advancements in Equine Lameness Evaluation

August 24, 2013

By Dr. Fred Caldwell, (334) 844-4490

Auburn, Alabama —

The diagnosis of subtle lameness in the performance horse can be difficult.  This is especially true for pelvic limb lameness. Subtle lameness is often not perceived by the rider but can result in the horse not performing up to its full potential.  Traditional lameness evaluation involves the subjective visual assessment of the horse while in motion under a variety of circumstances such as trotting in hand, lunging, or under saddle.  Mild to moderate lameness can be appreciated by the skilled veterinary observer; however, subtle or intermittent lameness can be more difficult for the human eye to detect consistently.

This has led to the development of a computerized system of equine gait analysis called the Lameness Locator® by Equinosis® LLC.  With this system, horses undergoing evaluation are instrumented with a series of wireless sensors that are used to gather data while the horse is in motion.  This data is instantaneously computed into an objective evaluation of the horses’ gait which can not only help identify a lameness in a particular limb, but detect compensatory limb lameness or even multiple limb lameness. The system can further be utilized to monitor for elimination of the lameness following diagnostic nerve or joint analgesia, helping in the identification of the origin of the original lameness. This technology also allows consistency in follow up evaluations, as well as uniformity in communications between veterinarians, farriers, or trainers familiar with the technology.

We have been using this system in the evaluation of equine lameness at the J.T. Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital for the last several years.  We are excited about how much this system has enhanced our service to our clients.  This technology does not supersede the importance of a thorough physical examination using traditional skills such as visual assessment, limb palpation, limb manipulation, or hoof tester application.  However, it does add another valuable diagnostic tool to our black bag.

You can read more about the technology and see it in action by visiting www.equinosis.com.  If you would like to hear more about this system and how it can help potentially identify a performance problem in your horse, the lameness clinicians at Auburn would be happy to set up an appointment to have your horse evaluated with the Lameness Locator®.

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