The Horse

NOV 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse November 2018 65 results if used or interpreted incorrectly, our sources agree. This could be due to something as simple as sensor placement, says Valerie Moorman, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS-LA, assistant professor of equine surgery and lameness at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences' Ortho- paedic Research Center, in Fort Collins. A slight change in placement on the limb or pelvis can cause dramatic differences. But even correctly placed sensors might have difficulty reading asymmetry in a bilaterally lame horse. "We need to be cognizant that what we see ourselves might be different from what the objective system finds, and not accept those results blindly," she says. Man & Machine: The Ideal Combo Given both objective and subjective systems' strengths, the question isn't, "Which is better?" but, rather, "How can we use both in harmony?" "Objective evaluations remain a very complementary tool to subjective clinical evaluations," Moorman says. "I still rely primarily on subjective assessments but, in certain situations like multiple limb lameness, the objective data can add more information that could assist in making a diagnosis." Objective data can also give doubtful owners a sense of "proof" that the issue is at a particular site. "I've had owners who, because of past experience with another horse, were convinced the pain was coming from the stifle, even though for me in a subjective exam it was clearly the horse's back," she says. "So running an objective analysis helps support my diagnosis and reassures the owner." Treatment follow-up can benefit from objective analysis, as well, by adding numbers for comparison. "If I say the horse has Grade 3 lameness before treatment, and a few months later say he has Grade 2, I have to be aware of my own bias," Moorman says. Subjective bias is just "part of human nature," she says, regardless of experience, and can occur from being optimistic about the treatment, having seen other kinds of lameness recently, or simply being in a different mood or mental state. "Having that objective data can be really helpful." That comparison can also confirm what the clinician sees with nerve blocks, adds Dyson. "These tools are useful for validating clinical assessments, both for diagnosis when comparing before and after nerve blocks and for pre- and post- treatment comparisons," she says. Take-Home Message Objective measurement systems and subjective lameness evaluations each have their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, neither on its own can offer a perfect, error-free solution for diagnosing and monitoring lameness in horses. But careful application of the two methods could draw out the best features of both. As IMUs and their algorithms evolve, say our sources, the combination of subjective and objective systems, along with proper user training, could lead to more accurate lameness examinations. h AAEP Booth 2236

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