Sports Medicine is a term used to describe the exams performed and treatments given to help our equine athletes continue to perform.
Horse’s that are limping are said to be ‘lame’, and a lameness examination is designed to find the origin or the cause of the limping. Horses are moved around in hand, on a lunge line, across various hard or soft surfaces, and sometimes evaluated with a rider to aid in this detection. Flexion tests are also performed to try to isolate regions of the limb that may be causing discomfort.
Sometimes a region is treated with a numbing agent, called a Diagnostic Nerve Block, in order to aid in the location of the lameness. Once a region is isolated, imaging with thermography, x-rays or ultrasounds can be done to aid in further diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate therapy can be instituted to remedy the horse’s ailment.
Before purchasing a new horse, whether for pleasure or competition through the upper levels, a performance and purchase examination should be completed. These examinations include a comprehensive physical, a soundness evaluation over various surfaces and examination with a rider, often performing in the horse’s desired discipline. Some examinations also involve evaluation of the skeletal system with radiographs or ultrasound, the upper airway with an endoscopic evaluation, laboratory testing of the blood and/or drug screening tests.
To perform a proper pre-purchase examination, a rider who can appropriately ride the animal should be available for the appointment. A proper riding area also needs to be available for the evaluation. Suitable protective headgear and appropriate tack should be brought to the appointment as well.
A written report is generated after this evaluation, and the prospective buyer is often delivered a comprehensive package of materials within a few days of the appointment (our personal goal is an electronic report to the buyer’s email within 24 hours). Most recently video documentation of the purchase exams has become popular. If you are interested in this, please mention when you call to assure the camera is packed for the visit.
Regenerative Medicine Therapy
Regenerative Medicine is a comprehensive term used for a family of therapies designed to aid the bodies natural, recuperative properties to heal. Regenerative Therapies include platelet-rich plasma, stem cells and IRAP therapy.
IRAP is short for Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein. It is a naturally occurring protein that works to protect joints by occupying receptor sites on the membrane of cartilage cells. It is a therapy from a relatively new group of anti-arthritis products. Harvested blood is incubated for 24 hours to increase the anti-inflammatory and regenerative protein concentration levels. The extracted serum can be used immediately or frozen for future use. IRAP therapy is an intra-articular sports medicine therapy.
Many of the therapies used to remedy lameness in our equine athletes involve intra-articular medications. The proper selection and administration of these medications takes an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and joint physiology. The Doctors at WCEH take pride in our mastery of this technique and specialize in performing these procedures.