A three-dimensional scanner mounted on a tablet has shown promise in detecting and measuring lower leg swelling in horses, report researchers Steven Johnson and Jennifer Symons from the University of Portland. Repetitive jumping is stressful on horse's limbs as it loads them with additional weight. Fluid can accumulate near leg structures that are stressed. This stress can contribute to injury, which could lead to time off, rehabilitation or even euthanasia in extreme cases.
Leg swelling in horses is currently assessed using observation and palpation, but both modalities are imprecise and potentially subjective. The scientists wanted to see if a 3D scanner could objectively assess swelling related to mechanical stresses.
Five showjumpers were used in the study; a Structure Scanner, made by Occipital, was mounted to an Apple iPad and calibrated. A scan of the lower front leg and lower hind leg was completed in less than three minutes before the horse was ridden and jumped.
The scanner showed that all horses had swelling in their limbs when they finished jumping. Four of the horses had enough swelling in their limbs that an experienced horse person would have noticed it. The horse with the most swelling in his legs—37 percent—was also the youngest used in the study. The horse was ridden harder in the study period than he traditionally trained at home, his rider noted.
The scientists noted that the scanner was able to detect the increase in lower-leg volumes in the second set of scans. The recommend that further research with more-stringent parameters be performed; they feel that the scanner technology may offer information that can be used to set training and rehabilitation programs that decrease the incidence of injury. They note that it also may be helpful for aiding with rehabilitation protocols from injuries to the suspensory or superficial digital flexor tendon.
Read the study here.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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