WHOLE BODY VIBRATION THERAPY STUDIED
that (WBV) a significant Two whole therapy new body studies effect may vibration on not suggest lame- have ness, but it can help horses relax and encourage their hooves to grow more quickly. WBV involves standing the horse on a sturdy metal plate that can be set to vibrate at various frequencies. The vibrations are believed to improve circulation, which can stimulate healing, while also having a warm-up-like effect on the soft tissues, which may help prevent injury and improve performance. WBV has been used in human rehabilitation for more than a decade, but vibration plates for horses have only recently become available. In a study conducted at Michigan State University, veterinarians who specialize in sports medicine examined six horses having known or suspected gait deficits. Each horse was assigned an initial lameness score and given flexion tests and range of motion evaluations in the carpus (knee), hock and fetlock joints. In addition, the average length of stride was measured at the walk and trot. The group was then divided into pairs based on these findings. In each pair,
one horse was treated with WBV, standing on a platform that vibrated at 50 Hz for 30 minutes at a time, five days a week for three weeks, while the other stood on an adjacent platform that did not vibrate on the same schedule to serve as the control. At the end of the study period, the same veterinarians---who did not know which horses had been treated and which were controls---performed follow-up evaluations to score lameness, check range of motion, and measure stride lengths. When the data from the pre- and post-treatment exams were compared, the researchers found no difference in the two groups that could be attributed to the vibrating platforms. During the course of the study, however, the researchers noted that horses seemed more relaxed during vibration therapy. “Once we started noticing changes in behavior in the treated horses, we began documenting some qualitative observations,” says veterinary student Chelsea Nowlin. “What we noticed was that treated horses stood more calmly on the platform, appeared to attempt to dismount the platform fewer times than their control counterparts, stood with their neck and head lowered, kept their ears forward indicating contentment and of seemed findings evidence to why enjoy Nowlin were the vibrating relaxed, align that more says treatment horses with relaxed.” she but platform is anecdotal these horses appear unsure treatments. ducted Medical Separate at Center Peninsula research, in Menlo Equine conPark, WBV’s California, potential focused effects on on hoof growth. For that study, 10 horses were treated with WBV five days a week for two 30-minute sessions at 40 Hz each day for 60 days. Each horse’s hoof growth was measured during three periods: in the 30 days prior to the start of the treatment, during the study period and for 60 days afterward. The data showed that WBV stimulated hoof growth during the study period, which is when the treatment was delivered. “The increase in hoof growth rate was statistically significant, up to 41 percent,” says veterinary surgeon Bart Halsberghe, DVM, cVMA, cert. ISELP. “Clinically, owners would likely notice [such] increased hoof growth because the horse might be due for trimming or shoeing sooner than normal.” In the 60 days after WBV, hoof growth returned to its previous, pretreatment rate. To control for seasonal changes in hoof growth rates, the study was performed in two times phases of the during year. different How exactly WBV influenced hoof growth is not clear, says Halsberghe. “Unfortunately, the mechanism of action behind whole body researched he says. vibration “Increased in the has horse,” not circula- been tion has been postulated, but personally I think it is the workload created on the cells that is responsible for its effect. At the level of the hoof, it is likely increased shear force that causes a mechanical stimulus to the cells leading to cell proliferation and differentiation.” The study did not focus on the quality of the hoof growth during treatments, says Halsberghe, “however, if we assume that the mechanism of action of whole body vibration is related to cell proliferation and differentiation due to shear forces, it would make sense that whole body vibration can help develop a stronger foot by increasing the number of lamellae per square millimeter. This could potentially explain why several anecdotal case reports have shown a beneficial effect of whole body vibration in the treatment of laminitis.”
References: “Acute and prolonged effects of vibrating platform treatment on horses: A pilot study,” Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, March 2018, and “Effect of two months whole body vibration on hoof growth rate in the horse: A pilot study,” Research in Veterinary Science, May 2018
During the course of the study, the researchers noted that horses seemed more relaxed during vibration therapy.