What Do We Know About Rehab Modalities in Horses?

While people might extol the virtues of various rehabilitation modalities, those testimonials rarely rely on the science surrounding the techniques.

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What Do We Know About Rehab Modalities in Horses?
In horses, underwater treadmill improves muscle strength, postural stability, motor control, and joint range of motion. | Photo: Courtesy University of Tennessee
Following injuries, which are frequent events in athletic horses, owners and trainers commonly seek one or more alternative therapies to facilitate rehabilitation. While many people extol the virtues of rehabilitation modalities, claiming they expedite the healing process or even cure the horse, those testimonials rarely rely on the science surrounding the techniques.

Given the popularity of rehabilitation modalities in modern equine practice, Katherine Ellis, DVM, a third-year equine sports medicine and rehabilitation resident at Colorado State University, recently reviewed the available indications, proposed mechanism of actions, and regulation of rehabilitation modalities during the 2019 Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), held Dec. 7-11 in Denver.

The complete article, “Review of the current literature of common rehabilitation modalities,” provides far more details that can be included in this skeleton synopsis, but the following table offers a bird’s-eye view of Ellis’ presentation.

“When considering the following modalities, be certain to review the regulations of the governing body appropriate for your event,” she said. “The FEI, USEF, and other organizations like AQHA often have regulations regarding the accepted use of these modalities during competition.”

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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