Rebuilding Athletes To Peak Performance
Rehabilitating a horse after an injury features controlled exercise that promotes range of motion.
BY JESSICA TREMAYNE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VETERINARY PRACTICE NEWS
Cold Leg Spa
A cold saltwater spa for horses was developed in 1998 by Evan Hunt, MVSc, PhD, a retired professor at University of Sydney-Orange, Australia. Dr. Hunt had an interest in race horses and their injuries and worked to develop a way to better treat or prevent injuries. Now equine spas are sold in the U.S. and other countries.
“The cold water leg spa is newer to the industry and meant to be used after a hard workout,” Grohl says. “This helps reduce inflammation and prevents future injuries. We use this at our facility and at races. The spa isn’t made to be mobile, but we found a way to transport it because there’s such a great need for it.”
Although a great preventive tool, the cold saltwater spa can be used for many purposes.
“The cold saltwater spa is terrific for any injury that has pain, heat, swelling/inflammation, or poor circulation due to damage or injury,” says Brenda McDuffee, general manager at The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center in Ocala, Fla.
“We treat many laminitic horses, soft tissue injuries and joint problems. The 35-degree water has 250 pounds of Epsom salt and regular salt in it. The salt water will cool the legs down even more than is possible with fresh water, so when the horse comes out of the spa his legs will stay cold up to three or four hours and the cold penetrates completely through the legs, much more so than cold hosing, cold wraps or standing in ice water can do.”
Grohl says horses might stay at a rehabilitation facility for 60-120 days or longer depending on their needs.
“Environment plays a huge role in a successful rehab program,” Hager says. “If a horse is surrounded by horses jumping or running around, they tend to get excitable and are less likely to mentally adapt to a successful rehab experience. In a dedicated rehabilitation facility, the focus can be directed toward providing a relaxing and less stressful environment wherein the horse can undergo therapeutic and exercise programs directed at their specific injury/injuries without anxiety or excitement.”
McDuffee says hyperbaric oxygen therapy and water treadmills are essential equipment for equine rehabilitation, but smaller pieces of equipment such as therapeutic lasers, electro-magnetic pulse machines, ultrasounds and respirator machines are also an integral part of services.