The most common ailment to affect a horse is lameness. A University of Missouri equine veterinarian has developed a system to effectively assess this problem using motion detection. This system has been referred to as "Lameness Locator."
Kevin Keegan, a professor of equine surgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU, has been tracking horse movement related to equine lameness for years. Because equine lameness may begin subtly and can range from a simple mild problem affecting a single limb to a more complicated one affecting multiple limbs, veterinarians and horse owners know that early detection is the key to successful outcomes. The problem, Keegan says, is that detection still relies on simple visual observation with the naked eye.
"We've been developing objective methods of lameness detection and evaluation since the early 1990s as an aid to subjective evaluations," Keegan said. "We started with treadmills and high speed cameras, and those worked pretty well, but they weren't really practical due to high cost and they cannot be used in the field. Plus, horses do not move on a treadmill like they do on regular ground. In some cases with mild lameness, or in cases with multiple limb lameness, even experts looking at the same horse may disagree on whether lameness is present or on its severity. An objective method would be helpful to take some guesswork out of the evaluation."
Working with Frank Pai, a professor in mechanical engineering at MU, and Yoshiharu Yonezawa at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology in Japan, the team developed an inertial sensor system, now in commercial use, which places small sensors on the horse's head, right front limb and croup, near the tail. The sensors monitor and record the horse's torso movement while the horse is trotting. The recorded information is compared against data bases recorded from the movement of healthy horses and other lame horses. These comparisons can help equine veter
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University of Missouri-Columbia