Vibration Plates: Shaking Up Traditional Equine Treatment Plans

by | 09.13.2018 | 8:20am

The equine industry is routinely looking outside the traditional medicine toolbox in an effort to keep their four-legged athletes happy and sound. Though there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests that some of these complementary modalities may work, there is little scientific evidence to prove that they benefit horses.

Vibrating platforms have become popular in recent years, with a variety of race and sport horse owners touting that they improve performance and speed injury healing when horses stand on the platforms regularly, reports The Horse.

A study team from Michigan State University studied the platforms and reported on their findings at the Equine Science Society Symposium, held in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 30 through June 2. Chelsea Nowlin presented on the topic as part of her undergraduate research. Nowlin worked under the guidance of Brian Nielsen, PhD, PAS, Dipl. ACAN, a professor of exercise physiology in Michigan State's Department of Animal Science.

Nowlin and her research wanted to know if horses that stood on vibration platforms had different physiologic parameters than those horses that didn't stand on the platforms. The team had lameness exams performed on six Arabian geldings, then matched them in pairs based on lameness score, age, sex and stride length. Both horses then stood on vibrating platforms, but only one horse had the machine turned on.

The researchers evaluated both short-term and long-term effects of the plate. The acute study was one 30-minute vibration session and the long-term test included treatment five days a week for three weeks. The same vets then performed lameness exams on the horses immediately after both the short- and long-term tests.

The team found no differences in the parameters between the horses that used the vibrating plate and those that simply stood on it. However, they did observe behavioral changes in the horses that used the vibrating plate for an extended period of time.

Though the team was not specifically noting behavior, the horses that stood on the plates for the longer testing period seemed to relax each time they stood on the plate, while the control horses seemed restless.

Nowlin said she believes that this could be part of the reason why so many horse owners believe in the plate's positive effects.

Read more at The Horse.

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