Lameness Locator: A Valuable Evaluation Tool
by Dr. Sallie Hyman, VMD, DACVIM, CVA
Your horse is lame. It’s the right front, you think. No, maybe it’s the right hind. Maybe it’s both. The one thing you know is it’s time to call the vet.
Lameness evaluation is a challenge in equine veterinary practice. It is even more complicated in cases that involve subtle lameness, multiple-limb lameness, multiple lameness of the same limb or lameness that only occurs under certain circumstances (under saddle, soft ground vs. hard ground, right vs. left lead, etc.).
Equine practitioners rely on head and hip movements to aid in the diagnosis of lameness. A horse will nod its head down when the sound leg hits the ground for a front limb lameness. Veterinarians look for an upward hike or significant drop in the hip on the side of a hind limb lameness. The changes in head and hip movement must be significant enough to be seen by the human eye in order for veterinarians to detect them and diagnose the lameness.
To help detect lameness sooner and/or establish a baseline, an objective computerized assessment device was invented by the University of Missouri. This Lameness Locator (EL2) uses motion-analysis algorithms reflecting 10,000+ horses’ data from high-speed cameras and treadmills.
Three small sensors are placed on the horse: one on the head (attached to the halter), one on the right pastern (attached with a neoprene wrap) and one on the pelvis (attached with Velcro). The horse is then trotted in a straight line and lunged at the trot to the left and right. The entire examination takes about 20 minutes to perform. It costs $95.
The Lameness Locator provides the veterinarian with an objective assessment of a horse’s movement. Subtle changes in symmetry of movement beyond the ability of the human eye can be detected. In fact, the EL2 is 10x faster and more accurate than the human eye.
Another advantage of the EL2 is assessing diagnostic nerve blocks. Sequential evaluations also provide objective information on response to therapies, or improvement of an injury during a rehabilitation process (like long-term tendon recovery). It may replace repeated ultrasounds.
Baseline soundness exams are recommended for every ridden horse. Arguably as important as baseline blood work, this analysis of your “sound” horse will save time and money when he becomes lame.
As the first vet practice in Loudoun county to offer this service, Total Equine Veterinary Associates remains committed to providing the latest technology to your horse on the farm.