Fracture stabilization is one of the most important steps in addressing potentially catastrophic injuries in horses. One of the staples veterinarians use to stabilize equine limb fractures is the Robert Jones bandage, a layered and padded bandage, sometimes used in conjunction with a splint layered inside the wrap, designed to limit limb mobility.

Recently, a research team from Washington State University (WSU) and the University of Idaho College of Engineering evaluated Robert Jones bandage application methods to determine the best way to limit motion in fractured limbs.

Julie Cary, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, clinical assistant professor of equine surgery at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, presented the team’s findings at the 2012 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Anaheim, Calif.

"The purpose of this project was to critically evaluate the Robert Jones bandage and splinting techniques and to determine the biomechanical properties of this method and stabilization compared with proposed modifications," Cary explained.

The team used a model to simulate bending forces typically placed on a fracture in the mid-metacarpal (cannon bone) region. It included a 4-by-4-inch post 3 meters in length with a hinge 1 meter from the end. The team placed the bandage, with or without a splint, on the testing apparatus, centered over the hinge. They then evaluated stability with and without splinting, as well as with bandage modifications designed to increase stability.

To test the bandage and splint’s effectiveness, the team attached a 10-pound weight to the end of the model and measured