85. Myth or Real: Rehabilitation of a horse after a soft tissue injury is best done with special equipment not necessarily readily available to all horse owners for the best chance of success.

Answer: Myth

At the recent 2016 AAEP convention, the focus of a series of presentations was lameness rehabilitation. I am always very interested in those papers that are easily applicable to the vast majority of equine veterinarians and horse owners. I attended a lecture entitled “Practical Approach to the Rehabilitation of Soft Tissue Injuries in Sport Horses” and came away from it with a much greater knowledge base for what makes a successful rehab program and how it can be implemented under most any equine setting. The paper ended with several points “to take home” for successful rehabilitation (and I quote):

  • Need an accurate diagnosis.
  • Have a clear, concise written treatment and rehabilitation protocol (tentative) for the owner/trainer/groom.
  • Every case is different: approach it that way.
  • Do not need all the fancy rehabilitation equipment to do a good job and be successful.
  • Ice is your friend.
  • Walking under tack is very beneficial initially.
  • Regular evaluations of the injury and its prognosis are essential for success.

While there is so much more within the body of the article, this list helps us to understand, in a broad sense, the most important points to consider when implementing a rehab program after a horse has sustained a soft tissue injury. The author makes what I consider to be a very important conclusion: “the author believes that the overall process of getting a soft tissue injury back to competition successfully involves 25% treatment and 75%rehabilitation process.” He emphasizes that the veterinarian cannot leave the owner alone to work out the rehab program, but must work closely with the owner/trainer/groom for the best chance for a positive outcome for the horse.

Article: Manning, A. MSC, DVM. Practical Approach to the Rehabilitation of Soft Tissue Injuries in Sport Horses. AAEP Proc. 2016, vol. 62, pp. 256-258.

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