Is this really normal activity for a horse? Even though your horse may adapt to this and similar activities, this is not a normal activity for your horse.
Horses original activities were to graze and run wild over hill and dale. Their movements were long and flowing. When humans entered the picture we began to teach them other ways of using their muscles. They were even called beasts of burden.
Horses today are asked to perform the same task over and over. We love them so much that we put them in fine stables, blanket and totally care for them. They rarely have the opportunity to run, jump and frolic in a large field. Here they use all of their muscles and they don’t cause a repetitive overuse syndrome.
These horses can have the same problem that humans have had when they acquire occupational overuse syndrome. Because the animal is performing the same type of activity over and over his muscles become out of balance or educated to that function..
This is accentuated if the animal is injured and not able to perform for a period of time. The muscles will atrophy to a point of disuse (especially if stabled or movement is restricted). Because of the atrophy the muscles will need to be re-educated. In a young healthy horse general activity may be all that is needed. However, when it is severe or the animal is older, the muscles need help.
RE-EDUCATION OF MUSCLES: What does that mean? How can a muscle be re-educated? Is a muscle educated in the first place? Muscle Re-education relates to a muscle being used to a different level of activity than is its normal (or acquired normal) activity. When the muscle is required to perform a different function (i.e. barrel racing, pole bending, jumping, games, etc.) the muscle responds negatively (i.e. pain, spasm, etc.) until it is re-educated to the activity level placed upon it. The need to re-educate a muscle can be the result of various causes (a sprain, injury, repetitive use, disease, change of task description, etc.).
A muscle is educated. A newborn foal has no control over its muscles. It cannot immediately walk, run or jump. The muscles have to be educated. Granted this does happen faster than with a human child. But the process is the same; the muscles are trained (through repetitive movements) allowing the foal to do the things they could not do when first born. As they grow, most healthy horses train their muscles equally.
If the horse is used differently, stops its usual event performance or is injured, the muscles will regress or atrophy back to the point prior to being educated or even worse.
Today there are fewer incidences of horses pulling wagons and plowing fields. They are mostly used athletically in various games, from rodeo events to steeplechase. Studies have shown injured muscles do acquire a learned disuse”.
Disuse Atrophy can cause loss of muscle strength and even muscle mass (i.e. a fall, working an event without warming up causing a muscle strain, hitting a jump, etc.). Injured humans have been treated for the after effects of strains and sprains for years. It has been thought that horses could work out the problem on their own. We need to look at horses. They have the same basic musculoskeletal system as humans. The names of the muscles are even similar.
A wise veterinarian told us; A horse’s musculoskeletal system is just like humans except the horse has longer tendons and ligaments with shorter muscles.
The NC-Equine was developed for this purpose.
- The individual muscles that are affected can be identified and treated individually.
- Treatments are gentle to the animal, thus allowing a longer treatment period.
- Stronger contractions for more muscle recruitment.
- The unit is portable and very-user friendly so the owner or attendant of the animal can continue the treatment program at home or in the stable.
The NC-Equine simulates exercise. This program works the muscles more intensely, recruiting more muscle fiber than an injured animal can do and directs the treatments to the individual muscle groups involved. Thus the recovery process to re-educate muscles is shortened and much less painful.
Graduation from the treatment program only means the animal must go on to a higher level of education. After the prescribed period of treatment, the animal is to continue an active workout program to keep the muscles healthy and in balance. If left to recover on their own, the Re-education of an injured muscle can be a long, and many times, painful process.
Electrical Stimulation has been used in conjunction with human Physical Therapy for many years. Within the NeuroCare development they were all being addressed to human muscle and nerve problems. However, because of the love of horses shared by the owners of the company, they began adapting the machine to help their horses to overcome nerve and muscle problems similar to ones they were seeing in human clients.
With a little adaptation for use with animals and some cosmetic changes the NC-Equine was created.
The NC-Equine is a brand-name neuromuscular stimulator. There are some specific differences in the construction of the NC-Equine when compared to other units of this sort. (These differences are outlined in other publications.) Here we will look at the applications in which the NC-Equine and its Treatment Program have proven to be successful.
AREAS/INSTANCES OF MUSCLE RE-EDUCATION:
- Post operative muscle rehab.
- 100% muscle recruitment
- Frozen shoulder syndrome
- Increase tone and strength of deep muscle
- Off-site Physical Therapy
- Better patient compliance to physical therapy
- Repetitive or overuse injuries (i.e. barrel racing, pole bending, jumping, etc.)
- Decrease or eliminate disqualification due to injury
- Accelerated athletic re-participation
- Diagnosis of specific muscle involvement
- Spinal cord injury complications
- Postural imbalances due to muscle Spasticity