Hydrotherapy treatment

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2004
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North Carolina
This past Tuesday my show mare, Sierra, was diagnosed with laminitis. She had all the typical symptoms…warm feet, an increased pulse, dropped soles, and the stance. Our vet discussed the treatment options with us and mentioned a new treatment that is out called hydrotherapy. He had never had personal experience with this new treatment but the studies have shown that is helps foundered horses a lot. We decided to give it a chance, along with having the other more common treatments done as well.

Our vet wanted her to start asap so we packed her up as fast as we could and took her to the nearby farm, who luckily have a hydrotherapy machine. The machine is made for full-size horses and is about five and a half feet tall. It is made of pure aluminum and is like a huge water tank. We were worried how Sierra would act not being able to see out. She was wonderful going in and just as good when we closed her in and started pumping the water in. The water is supposed to be kept between 8” and 10” high and at 45 degrees or less all the time.

Sierra had to stay in the machine for 48 hours with constant supervision so we were there non-stop with her. She got to come out for about a half an hour in the morning and in the evening to eat and get her medicine (DMSO, Ace, and Equinox), then had to go right back in. Towards the end of the 48 hours she was getting very restless but she made it through without much of a problem.

This was an experimental treatment as the machine had never been used for more than 20 minutes at a time. It, along with the other treatments, seem to have helped Sierra. She is back home now and is walking and acting normal. Our vet was out yesterday for a check-up and is very pleased with how she is doing. He gives her a percentage score on how much better she is then when he first saw her and diagnosed her. During her first check-up she was 25% and then 50% at her second one. This was her third check-up and he said that she has totally skipped the 75% mark and has jumped to 90%. I was thrilled to hear that!

He is coming back out on Tuesday to take x-rays and see where we stand as far as rotation. Please keep Sierra in your thoughts and prayers on a good outcome.

The hydrotherapy machine



Sierra in the machine


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