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EQultrasound Treatment and Hand Probe Movement

therapeutic ultrasound for horsesPlease note that EQultrasound treatment must be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian after a full orthopedic and neurological check.

The safety of the practitioner, patient and equipment should be considered at all times.

Although EQultrasound treatments are completely painless and horses tolerate them well without any sedation, it is very important to properly prepare equine patients for treatment, including the prevention of uncontrolled kicking, distress or pain. Most veterinarians and therapists use some form of restraint to ensure the safety of the individuals and device.

Before starting the treatment we suggest to define the area to treat. When defining the area you need to take into account the treatment duration and the extension of the area to treat. Please note that in 20 minutes you will be able to properly treat a surface area equal to a letter size piece of paper (8.5” x 11”). Therefore for larger areas you need to adjust treatment time accordingly.

Always clean the area to treat. Unless horse hair is very long, shaving the area to treat is not necessary.

Spread some gel specific for ultrasound use on the hand probe surface and on the area to treat; repeat the procedure during treatment in order to help ultrasound penetration and the hand probe smooth sliding on the area to treat.

Treatment is to be performed by massaging the areas to treat with the hand probe transducer in direct contact with horse hair.

During treatment it is very important to keep moving the hand probe with slow and gentle linear or circular movements, while applying a constant pressure.

The hand probe transducer must be slowly and steadily moved over the area to treat in order to obtain a uniform exposure and to avoid over heating of a specific spot (a speed of 3 or 4 inches per second is recommended).

The slower you move the hand probe, the deeper the ultrasound effects.
The faster you move the hand probe, the more superficial the ultrasound effects.
More pressure on the hand probe equals to deeper ultrasound effects.
Less pressure on the hand probe equals to more superficial ultrasound effects.

Ultrasound treatments should always be below the pain threshold. An important task of the veterinarian or therapist is to always observe and understand the horse’s body language in order to monitor any type of discomfort and eventually lower output intensity.

Flat hand probes were conceived to treat flat areas, while concave hand probes were conceived to treat smaller rounded areas, since the concave shape allows better coupling on rounded surfaces. In any case you should always try to have the best possible adhesion between the hand probe and the area to treat, since air does not allow ultrasound propagation: this is the reason why you need to make sure there is always gel between the hand probe and horse hair.

Concave hand probes have deeper and more powerful effects than flat hand probes (providing they are all set at the same power output, moved at the same speed and applied with the same pressure), because of the concave shape of the transducers, which focalizes the ultrasound output.

Red hand probes (continuous emission) were conceived to treat pathologies where the use of heat is particularly indicated, while silver hand probes (pulsed emission) were conceived to treat pathologies where heat is undesirable.

As a general rule, treatments of muscular pathologies should be performed on alternate days; treatments of joint pathologies should be performed either on alternate days or once every three days (depending on the type and severity of the pathology to treat); treatments of calcifications should be performed for the first week once every other day, for the second week once every three days and for the subsequent weeks once every five days.

It is important to wait between one treatment and the other to allow time for the horse body to perform its own repair processes, which have been stimulated by the ultrasound treatment. Please note that the “more is better” theory does not apply to ultrasound therapy.

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  4. Dave Anderson

    Like you said, it is important to make sure that certified veterinarians are the only people that do ultrasounds on horses because of the nature of the ultrasound. Another thing is that the ultrasound needs to not only be performed but also read and understood. With that in mind, ultrasounds can tell you how the animal’s muscles are doing, not just look to see if they are carrying a baby.

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