Seattle facility takes surgical, medical rehabilitation to next level - DVM
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Seattle facility takes surgical, medical rehabilitation to next level


Pegasus uses P3 electromagnetic pulse therapy for tendon and ligament issues, swelling, joint stiffness and muscle strains. P3 is commonly used for back soreness, especially for muscles of the back, croup and hamstring.

Success has been reported with treatments of 15 minutes per day for three to five days, sometimes with temporary relief and in other cases long-term benefits. It has also been shown to benefit chronic suspensory desmitis (a common cause of both fore- and hind-leg lameness).

Pegasus also employs hot/cold compression therapy, which has been popular with professional human athletes to treat sore or strained muscles. Applied to the horse's legs, it reduces swelling and discomfort of strained tendons and muscle tears.

According to James Orsini, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center, it is "the standard of care for cold therapy." Cold therapy is used to minimize damage following injury and helps equine athletes heal faster during rehabilitation, reducing pain and inhibiting muscle spasms.

Horses at Pegasus are treated to Equissage, a deep-tissue massage machine that increases circulation while easing and toning muscles. It also is said to enhance lymphatic drainage and increase joint mobility, improving movement and performance. The Equissage "Back Pack" gives deep, cylcoidal massage to help speed healing.

Another tool employed at Pegasus is infrared digital thermal imaging, for visualizing changes in body temperature, detecting the first signs of edema and muscle strain.

It can uncover abnormal patterns in soft tissue, including nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs, showing areas of inflammation, infection, injury and nerve damage.

Equine infrared imaging also can detect musculoskeletal injuries several weeks before they are visually detectable, and can further help follow the horse's response to treatment.

Research for the future

Besides Pegasus' state-of-the-art amenities, Dedomenico and staff are beginning to conduct research to find the best way of those available to rehabilitate horses.

In the first research project, 24 to 32 horses will be divided into three treatment groups. A chip will be inserted in each horse's lower limb and removed after 30 days, giving sufficient time for osteoarthritis to start to occur. The researchers will look at enzymes and biomarkers for bone/cartilage deterioration.

One group of horses will go into the Aquatred as their sole treatment. Another will go into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber the day after surgery and then into the Aquatred as soon as the wound is healed (about a week to 10 days post-surgery). The third, or placebo (control), group will receive a common post-surgical regimen. Researchers will then compare the healing among the three groups at 180 days and a year later.

Another study will add swimming, taking horses from the hyperbaric oxygen chamber to the equine pool and then the Aquatred.

"Within a few years we hope to have more answers about the healing process," says Dedomenico.

He and the Pegasus staff expect to make noteworthy progress in equine training and rehabilitation and adding significantly to the that knowledge base.

"We've got to find a way do things better," says Dedomenico.

"I think we can heal horses a lot faster using the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, swimming pool and Aquatred, and then getting them back to form on Polytrack."

They've made substantial progress with the many horses they've already treated. In early spring this year, Hystericalady, a 4-year-old filly, came to Pegasus for rehabilitation.

On May 5, she ran to a four-length victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

The results speak for themselves.

Ed Kane is a Seattle author, researcher and consultant in animal nutrition, physiology and veterinary medicine, with a background in horses, pets and livestock.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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