How to Measure Horses’ Rehabilitation Progress Objectively

Seven measurement tools and methods veterinarians can implement into equine rehabilitation programs to track progress.

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How to Measure Horses’ Rehabilitation Progress Objectively
Veterinarians must use objective, rather than subjective, measurable outcomes to track a patient’s response to rehabilitation. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse
Veterinarians must use objective, rather than subjective, measurable outcomes to track a patient’s response to rehabilitation. Otherwise, they have little knowledge of what actually works, when it works, and how to apply the various rehabilitation modalities being used. This was the take-home message Melanie Connor, DVM, from Colorado State University’s Orthopaedic Research Center, relayed during her presentation at the 2019 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 7-1, in Denver.

As we know, the list of rehabilitation modalities currently used in horses is far longer than the row of scientific articles lined up to support their use.

“While it is widely accepted that equine rehabilitation not only helps prevent injury but also restores function following an injury and enhances a horse’s athletic performance, the practice of evidence-based medicine mandates valid outcome measures,” Connor said. “Otherwise, we are unable to provide credible and reliable justification for these therapies and are unable to devise specific therapeutic protocols for particular indications.”

In other words, without the science backing up these programs, the industry remains reliant on testimonials touting the virtues of rehabilitation … much like what owners encounter when attempting to purchase oral nutritional supplements for their horses

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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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