Force plate gait analysis is a specialized method of lameness evaluation at the University of Minnesota’s Leatherdale Equine Center and Piper Performance Clinic that has the ability to measure how much of the horse’s weight is placed on each limb. Dr. Troy Trumble is currently conducting research with the use of a force plate on how horses bear weight when they have arthritis as a means to establish an early diagnosis where treatments may have the most benefit.
Lameness is a major cause of decreased performance and economic loss in horses. Subtle lameness can be difficult to identify, especially if multiple limbs are involved. Traditionally, identification of lameness relies on subjective observation of asymmetries. Use of a force plate to record objective data of ground reaction forces acting on each limb could improve the identification of subtle lameness. The force plate is an in-ground steel plate that is connected to a computer with specialized software. Capabilities of the force plate technology include analysis of the walk and trot to assess lameness, detection of small changes in weight bearing, assessment of symmetry of load between limbs, and analysis of distribution of weight within each limb.
We hope to continue the validation of this method for lameness diagnosis by evaluating further clinical lameness cases. This is necessary to achieve the goal of applying the force plate technology to the equine veterinary clinical setting. Then, this tool could be used in combination within the traditional lameness exam to increase the ability to detect subtle and bilateral lameness.
Our current system is cumbersome such that it takes quite a bit of time to analyze the data once it has been collected; in other words, we can’t use this data to help that horse during its visit. Therefore, donations will go towards purchasing new software that will allow us to analyze data instantaneously so that clinicians can use this information in real time while the horse is being examined. This will be an incredibly important step for us in making this a realistic clinical tool.
Please consider donating to Dr. Trumble’s force plate research and partnering with us to achieve our goal to maintain and improve the health and performance of the horse by improving lameness diagnosis. There are no administrative fees taken through this crowdfunding portal, so all of your donation will be used directly to support Dr. Trumble’s research.