Lameness is a huge focus for Dr. Judith Koenig as a clinician, researcher and instructor at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). Koenig is also a rider with a keen interest in helping grass roots riders and upcoming high-performance athletes. In the accompanying video Dr. Koenig explains her current research endeavoring to heal tendon injuries faster and also takes some time to talk about prevention.

Stimulating stem cells to heal faster through the use of shock wave therapy is part of the exciting new research being conducted at the OVC by Dr. Koenig. They were investigating whether shock wave therapy performed after injecting stem cells into a tendon will result in better quality healing. Then they came up with the idea of pre-treating stem cells with shock wave prior to injection!

Dr. Koenig is also leading a clinical trial, currently enrolling thoroughbred racehorses. The trial performs repeated injection of stem cells that have been harvested from umbilical cord blood, frozen and stored in Dr. Thomas Koch’s lab. These stem cells are from unrelated horses. Funding from the Ontario Equestrian federation has enabled OVC researchers to also follow a control group treated with platelet rich plasma as a comparison for this study.

Reduced healing time is an obvious benefit to the welfare of the horse and of course the horse owner will be pleased about a quicker return to their training régime.

Realizing many will soon be in the position of starting horses back into training after a significant amount of time off, Koenig offers some important advice. “You need to allow at least a six-week training period for the athletes to be slowly brought back and build up muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness,” says Koenig. “Both stamina and muscle mass need to be retrained.” She stressed the importance in checking the horse’s legs for heat and swelling before and after every ride and picking out the feet. A good period of walking is required in the warm-up and cool down and riders need to pay attention to soundness in the walk before commencing their work out.

Want to learn more about lameness? Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints. Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!

Learn more about Dr. Koenig and her research here.