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Horses are evolutionarily designed to walk, and walking exercise is essential for equine physical and mental health during injury and rehabilitation. Stimulating healing tissues to repair in the face of exercise without stressing them into further injury improves function and reduces the rate of re-injury. The dry treadmill provides this essential component of rehabilitation in a highly controlled manner, allowing patients to gently move while being corrected for straightness and symmetry which is key in rehabilitation. Variable speed and incline settings allows us to
customize workouts for individual horses and add core and back strengthening components to their programs. All horses are directly monitored by a handler and the equipment is fitted with adjustable photocell and shock sensors to ensure the highest level of safety.
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Water provides resistance which adds intensity to the workout without the concussive stress of increased speed. Moving through the water increases range of motion of joints and improves flexibility which is critical in patients with joint disease (ie arthritis). Our water treadmill offers the ability to control the water height and speed of the treadmill, which is tailored to the patient’s needs. This also provides increased cardiovascular fitness and improving the topline. All horses are directly monitored by a handler and the equipment is fitted with adjustable photocell and shock sensors to ensure the highest level of safety.
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Vibration Plate Therapy
Probably our patients most favorite activity, as we notice many horses walk right on for their treatments! Our unique whole body vibration machine with a vibrating plate utilizes three-dimensional movement to evenly distribute pressure on all four limbs. As the plate shifts, the patient is stimulated to rebalance themselves, improving proprioception. Whole body vibration plate therapy has been theorized to stimulate blood circulation, especially in the legs. Regular use improves digestion and has been reported to help prevent colic, which makes it very useful in the treatment of horses on athletic rest. Preliminary veterinary research suggests it to also increase bone density and improves back musculature as well as improving hoof quality.
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Our Solarium is attached to our vibrating plate, which is equipped with deep penetrating infrared lamps which can be useful for loosening back muscles and increasing blood circulation by increasing capillary dilation. This increased blood flow through the body results in increased oxygen and nutrients delivery to the cells, and removing metabolic waste. The use of solarium prior to training relaxes the muscles of the back and improves muscle elasticity, benefiting the overall training process.In addition, infrared light has been shown to stimulate immunity and provide Vitamin D, which is vital for bone health.
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This modality is extremely beneficial for lower leg injuries by reducing inflammation. Our spa uses cold temperature, aeration, and saltwater therapy to increase its healing benefits. The cold water serves as a topical analgesic and reduces accumulating fluid in areas of concern, while lessening the cellular demand for oxygen. Saltwater has the ability to draw out inflammation and can provide a natural healing effect on wounds. Aeration massages the leg, making it useful in patients with cellulitis.
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Regenerative Laser Therapy
High Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT) allows for high power outputs of deep penetrating energy to be applied to injuries without the risk of damaging superficial tissues. The wavelength of the laser is optimized for specific tissue types to be treated, while also being minimally absorbed by water, melanin, and hemoglobin. This results in dilation of local vessels and the creation of new vessels, increased availability of growth factors and oxygen, and increases energy production of cells. Furthermore, this laser can recruit and direct certain stem cells to orchestrate healing, which is especially in important in chronic injury and the reduction of scar tissue. The laser can be used in acute injury as well as incorporated in the management of chronic conditions.
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Physiotherapy stretches & Balance pads
Physiotherapy (PT) stretches and balance pads help improve proprioception, balance and core strength. Various types of PT exercises allow our veterinarians to customize programs for each horse that are suitable for their individual fitness. Daily stretching helps strengthen and stabilize our patient’s core while also improving flexibility. If a horse is compensating for an injury and is not bearing weight evenly, PT balance pads encourage proper balance and utilization of core muscles for stronger posture. Balance is a key component during the rehabilitation process and reduces the chances of re-injury. The pads come in different densities to challenge our patients as they improve and become stronger. Our patients stand on balance pads while simply being groomed or while prescribed physio stretches are being performed, once they have mastered their stretches on the ground.
Physio Stretch Video
The Equiband® system increases a horse’s core strength with the use of two resistant bands that are attached to a saddle pad. The saddle pads come in 4 different sizes: pony, small, regular and large. Our rehab technicians make sure the correct size saddle pad fits each horse and adjusts the bands to the appropriate amount of tension. The shorter abdominal band attaches to both sides of the saddle pad and sits under the abdomen well behind the rider’s leg. While moving, this abdominal band stimulates core muscles that support the horses back. The longer hindquarter band attaches to both sides of the saddle pad and passes under the tail and rests at the point of least resistance, above the hock and just below the stifle. This hindquarter band encourages the horse to step underneath themselves and engage their hind end while moving forward. When a patient is at an appropriate point in their rehabilitation, and they have reached a certain level of fitness, the Equiband® system can be added to their program while the horse is being walked in hand, on the dry treadmill or on the Eurocizer to further challenge them in evenly increasing their core and hind end strength.
Massage therapy helps our patients relax their muscles and allows them to use their whole body more efficiently. When our patients are approved to have their treatment plans increase their amount of movement, massage therapy helps their muscles prepare for and recover from exercise as their amount of walking and level of physiotherapy increases. Some other benefits of massage include decreased compensation patterns and increased circulation of the lymphatic system, which is very beneficial for our patients who are on stall rest. Two of our rehabilitation technicians, Sarah and Jessica, received their Equine Massage Therapy Certifications in 2016 and massage each patient every two weeks. Sarah and Jessica have the advantage of knowing the “ins and outs” of each patient’s detailed treatment program and their personalities, as they have extensive hands on time with every patient daily. This allows an extremely comprehensive evaluation of the whole horse as a result from their massage therapy sessions, thus allowing our veterinarians an opportunity for further customization of each patient’s treatment plan.
Kinesiology tape is used to support therapeutic treatments done to our patients. In general, it can be applied to prolong the effects of massage therapy and acupuncture work, support muscles during training, relax tense muscles, and support joints. The tape is attached to the hair with varying amounts of stretch. The tape lifts the skin allowing for increased blood flow to the areas needing more nutrients from the blood. It can stay on your horse for up to 5 days before removal.
Back on Track® Products
We incorporate the use of Back on Track® products in our patients’ rehabilitation programs. When our patients walk on the dry treadmill and Eurocizer or are in turnout, they wear Back on Track® suspensory support boots to help support their injuries while they move. We also use the Back on Track® therapeutic mesh sheets to help keep our patients comfortable as they transition through their ever-changing rehabilitation programs. Back on Track® products are made with ceramic particles that radiate energy back to the body causing a thermal effect. This can assist with pain reduction, increase circulation, and reduce muscle tension and inflammation.
Our patients love falling asleep during their therapeutic ultrasound sessions. It differs from diagnostic ultrasounds in that they are designed specifically to have a biologic effect on soft tissues. Therapeutic ultrasounds heat up deep tissues without heating up the skin’s surface through the use of sound waves. These waves can go deeper than other conventional heat sources such as a heating pad or hot compresses. It can be used to help relieve muscle spasms, increase blood flow in muscles, tendons, and ligaments through vasodilation, help improve range of motion in stiff joints, and to soften scar tissue. By the recommendation of our veterinarians or massage therapists, the therapeutic ultrasound is used on some of our patients to help relax deep muscles and improve soft tissue elasticity. Having supple muscles allows a horse to use its whole body to the best of its ability and helps reduce the possibility of future injury.
Electro-stimulation, also known as E-STIM, can be used on our patients using appropriate pulse duration, intensities and low-frequency range to help simulate action signals coming from neurons. These electrical pulses stimulate acupuncture points and muscle fibers to relieve muscle spasms. It also helps increase circulation, which helps repair injured tissues and removes toxins, and can provide some pain relief to acute or chronic injuries. The E-STIM can also be used as a strengthening exercise for our patients with atrophied or weak muscles. By repeatedly stimulating deeper nerves, the E-STIM causes muscles to frequently activate which helps increase muscle tone and strength without whole body movement.
The eurocizer/hot walker is very similar to the dry treadmill in that it provides controlled walking exercise while allowing soft tissues to repair without stressing them into further injury. Where it differs from the dry treadmill, the eurocizer adds a bending component into the patient’s exercise, and the horse can move more freely and naturally. The patients can walk in both a clockwise and counterclockwise direction to keep their muscles developing evenly. Our eurocizer allows four horses to walk head to tail in separated parts of a circle. There are front panels to keep the patients from going too fast and rear panels to encourage the horses to move forward. The panels also move at variable speeds which enables us to customize workouts for the individual patients.
We offer handgrazing/handwalking, roundpen and medical paddock turnout and hotwalker exercise so the patient’s stall time is minimized. Acupuncture, chiropractic and spinal manipulation services, nutritional consultation, corrective farriery, and regenerative medicine therapies are also available. All horses receive Life-Aid and Platinum Performance supplementation for the duration of their stay.
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