Science

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Nearly one third of all sport horses  and racehorses will suffer from lameness, or an abnormal gait or stance that is the result of dysfunction of the horse’s locomotor system. In its 2015 national census, the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System reported that for the prior 12 month period, 24% of horse farms had experienced lameness which affected an average of 6% of their resident horses (1).   Lameness is most commonly observed as a result of injuries to the lower limb, often involving the fetlock and those structures that help support it, resulting in both severe pain and trauma to the horse. It is certainly one of the costliest health problems for the equine industry, both monetarily for the cost of diagnosis and treatment in addition to the time off resulting in loss-of-use. According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System, USDA Equine Economics, equine lameness costs the U.S. industry an estimated $1 billion per year and often results in premature retirements and deaths . In fact, in any given week, two dozen horses are euthanized at U.S. racetracks alone.

Despite the prevalence and gravity of the problem, there are currently no viable, time-effective hardware solutions in the market that prevent  lameness, and few that provide effective mechanical support to the affected limb  during the rehabilitative process. Instead, the current state of the industry is to use a variety of splints, boots, wraps and bandages that have little or no scientific support to help the rehabilitation process. Consequently, veterinarians, owners, trainers, riders, and horse lovers alike – including some of the most passionate individuals – are looking for a solution to keep their horses sound or speed their return to soundness following injury.

Horsepower Technologies™ will significantly reduce the emotional and financial impact of equine lameness for the horse owner, and the economic impact on stakeholders within the equine industry. The Company’s FastTrack™ product and protocol will directly address those horses that have sustained flexor apparatus injury and require treatment. As a result, they will undergo earlier mobilization and faster rehabilitation, culminating in an accelerated recovery. There is substantial scientific evidence to support this proposition:

  • Early mobilization post-injury has many benefits which include: increasing blood flow and lymphatic flow to promote healing; stimulating tissue repair for faster healing; limiting the extent of connective tissue fibrosis, all while preserving range of motion1.  A report presented at the 2010 American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention reported that early mobilization produced a 60% improvement in tendon Type 1 collagen deposition (evidence of healing) along with a 20% improvement in  maximum load potential (9).

  • Mobilization limits fibrosis (scarring) of connective tissues, preserves joint range of motion, and improves neuromuscular coordination.

  • Exercise is successful because repetitive loading is needed to induce remodeling of injured bone (10).

  • In a study of 230 cases of suspensory ligament desmitis, 68% of horses managed by controlled exercise were able to return to their intended use, whereas only about half the horses managed by 3 months of stall confinement followed by pasture were able to do so. The study also showed that controlled exercise results in a 35% improvement (11).

  • Pain can cause horses to shift their weight away from the affected limb onto the other limbs, changing their walk, trot, and canter gaits, as well as prompting new unsoundnesses.  FastTrack™, which is always worn on both forelimbs, helps support the additional load experienced by the healthy limb, reducing the likelihood of new ailments.

  • FastTrack™ for rehabilitating horses off-loads the flexor apparatus (superficial and deep digital flexor tendons, suspensory ligament and associated structures) by providing a variable degree of mechanical support to the fetlock joint, as determined by your veterinarian. This reduces the pain associated with flexor apparatus injury (tendinopathy, desmopathy, etc), allows a safe early return to function, and reduces the opportunity for re-injury of the damaged tissues. 

    Horsepower Technologies™ has presented our scientific findings at numerous national and international conferences and symposia such as:
  • American College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Symposium (Chicago, Illinois). November  3-5, 2011.

  • European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Symposium (Barcelona, Spain). July 5, 2012.

  • 48th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (San Antonio, Texas). October 24-26, 2013.

  • European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Symposium (Berlin, Germany). July 2-4, 2015.

  • 50th Annual American College of Veterinary Surgeons Surgery Summit (Nashville, Tennessee). October 22-24, 2015.

  • 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics (Raleigh, NC). August 2-5, 2016.

  • 25th European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting (Lisbon, Portugal). July 7-9, 2016.

Based upon this pioneering research, Horsepower Technologies™ has developed an innovative and revolutionary product line of equine orthotics to address lameness rehabilitation and prevention  in active horses. Along with pre-clinical testing conducted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and defended by a portfolio of utility patents and patents-pending, the Company plans to commercialize its first product FastTrack™.

FastTrack™ is a revolutionary equine rehabilitative orthotic that enables early mobilization with safe out-of-the-stall load-bearing exercise for horses that have sustained flexor apparatus injury . As noted, research has repeatedly demonstrated that early mobilization and moderate exercise promote faster rehabilitation and a more complete recovery. Consequently, one of the key technologies in FastTrack™ is an adjustable range of motion  control known as the SafeStop™. Made of high-grade Titanium commonly found in human implants, aircraft, and many other products, SafeStop™ limits the maximum permissible angle of the horse’s fetlock joint, thereby significantly reducing strain to the injured tendons and preventing re-injury. Additionally, the aircraft-grade aluminum FastTrack™ legwear off-loads the injured joint, reduces the pain and accelerates the overall healing process. As the horse’s health improves, a greater range of motion can be allowed via an easy and intuitive re-setting of the SafeStop™ angle, thus allowing the tendons to gradually adjust to an increased load. This approach prevents re-injury from excessively stressing the tendons too soon in the healing process. Rather than being stall-bound, horses can now walk, trot, or canter during their recovery phase while wearing the device. FastTrack™ has also been designed with the horse’s health and comfort in mind. FastTrack™ incorporates an innovative heat formable padding which provides a snug, supportive fit while allowing natural motion of the lower limb. FastTrack™ has been rigorously tested both in the lab and on six horses at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and is currently in advanced commercialization testing. The product has been designed to be used on any horse, regardless of equine discipline, breed, age or level of performance.

While the value of Horsepower Technologies’™ product line can be quantified both scientifically and economically, perhaps the greatest value proposition that the Company provides is emotional. We expect both horse and owner to feel materially better mentally and physically with earlier proactive exercise.

References:

  1. Equine 2015. Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States, 2015. USDA–APHIS–VS–CEAH–NAHMS #718.1216. Fort Collins, CO. 2015.

  2. Williams RB, Harkins LS, Hammond CJ, Wood JL. Racehorse injuries, clinical problems and fatalities recorded on British racecourses from flat racing and National Hunt racing during 1996, 1997 and 1998. Equine veterinary journal. 2001;33:478-486.

  3. Ely ER, Verheyen KL, Wood JL. Fractures and tendon injuries in National Hunt horses in training in the UK: a pilot study. Equine veterinary journal. 2004; 36:365-367.

  4. Pinchbeck GL, Clegg PD, Proudman CJ, Stirk A, Morgan KL, French NP. Horse injuries and racing practices in National Hunt racehorses in the UK: the results of a prospective cohort study. Veterinary journal. 2004;167:45-52.

  5. Lam KH, Parkin TD, Riggs CM, Morgan KL. Descriptive analysis of retirement of Thoroughbred racehorses due to tendon injuries at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (1992-2004). Equine veterinary journal. 2007; 39:143-148.

  6. Kasashima Y, Takahashi T, Smith RK, Goodship AE, Kuwano A, Ueno T, et al. Prevalence of superficial digital flexor tendonitis and suspensory desmitis in Japanese Thoroughbred flat racehorses in 1999. Equine veterinary journal. 2004; 36:346-350.

  7.  Singer ER, Barnes J, Saxby F, Murray JK. Injuries in the event horse: training versus competition. Veterinary journal. 2008; 175:76-81.

  8. Murray RC, Dyson SJ, Tranquille C, Adams V. Association of type of sport and performance level with anatomical site of orthopaedic injury diagnosis. Equine veterinary journal Supplement. 2006; 36:411-416.

  9. Schils S, Turner T. Review of early mobilization of muscle, tendon, and ligament after injury in equine rehabilitation. Proceedings 56th Annual AAEP Convention, Baltimore, Dec 4-8, 2010: p. 374-380.

  10. Tull TM, Bramlage LR. Racing prognosis after cumulative stress-induced injury of the distal portion of the third metacarpal and third metatarsal bones in Thoroughbred racehorses: 55 cases (2000-2009). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011; 10:1316-1322.

  11. Gillis CL, Meagher DM, Balesdent A. Suspensory ligament desmitis and associated fractures, in Proceedings. 40th Annu Conv Am Assoc Equine Practnr 1994;187–188