Recently, Dr. Jay Joyce and the TEVA Ambulance successfully transported a performance horse with a partial fracture of its radius (forearm bone). The decision to transport was thoroughly considered (all pros and cons); and it was decided that it was in the horse’s best interest to move from a farm near Leesburg to his home farm in Fairfax. With such a critical transport needed, the owner asked TEVA to assist.
Fractures of the radius are rare. Complete fractures of the radius almost always result in immediate humane euthanasia. Partial or incomplete fractures of the radius are still significantly dangerous as horses place great stress on their forelimbs and don’t like to stand quietly for long periods of time. Unmanaged, poorly managed, or uncontrolled, a partial fracture can immediately progress to a complete fracture and result in euthanasia.
To treat a partial fracture, strict stall rest and 24/7 stall cross-tying are needed for 2-4 months. Additionally, advanced therapies such as shockwave (ESWT) and cold-pulsed lasers can be advantageous and promote faster healing. Acupuncture and range of motion stretching/exercises for soreness can also help. Not only do we need absolute compliance with an effective treatment plan but also we need a patient willing to tolerate the limited mobility, extensive stall rest, and the rehabilitative treatments. Moreover, a supportive owner dedicated to the plan and the horse are needed. This patient has a SUPER owner!
For this transport, we chose a day and time with minimal traffic, took radiographs before and after transport, placed supportive bandages and 2 wooden splints on the patient, mildly sedated only as needed, and loaded/transported the patient facing backwards. [Rear facing for forelimb fractures because trailer drivers can usually control a smooth acceleration, but in cases of unexpected braking, the horse’s weight will be more placed on the hindlimbs with a sudden stop.] He entered the trailer from the gently sloping side-ramp into his rear-facing position. We thoroughly controlled and assisted him with every single step taken on the broken leg. Two safety ropes kept his head centered and unable to rise in order to prevent jumping or stepping out of the open upper trailer doors.
We took some pictures of the transport. A family member drove behind us to keep cars away and monitor the patient. We made most of the drive under 25 mph. Other drivers were courteous and the patient was mostly curious as to why he was facing the wrong way.
The transport was a success -- patience, experience, and good planning paid off. The horse is happily home, healing well, and tolerating the 24/7 cross tie. We expect a full recovery back to full athletic potential in a few months.
TEVA's ambulance isn't just for horse shows. It serves the community for both medical and routine transport. Medical transport includes urgent and emergency transport to an equine hospital and local transport of sick and injured patients to a rehab facility, boarding barn, or home farm.
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