Stem Cell Therapy

PRP & Stem Cell Therapy, written by Gemma S.
Edited for Oralgrooves.com by Evie

Introduction

Horses are incredibly strong and athletic animals, which means leg injuries are prevalent. Similar to an athlete at the top of his/her sport, it is almost impossible to have a career without suffering some setbacks. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before a horse goes lame and requires treatment or rehabilitation. The equestrian community has a lot of money to put into researching the best and most efficient treatments for equine soft tissue injuries.

Figure 1: Ultrasound of healthy ligament

Treatments

Stall rest, icing, poultice, and compression bandaging are the usual ways to treat a soft tissue injury. A soft tissue injury always results in a decreased workload, and the approach to healing is to minimize inflammation and increase circulation. Horses are often iced multiple times per day and the leg is wrapped intermittently to decrease inflammation and increase circulation.Once the initial lameness and swelling have subsided, then ultrasound pictures are taken to determine the severity of the injury. Afterwards, the vet and trainer can decide what the best route of recovery is for the horse; while some injuries take a month to heal, others can take years.

Figure 2: Ultrasound of ligament with injury. Area A = tear in ligament. Note the darker color.

Platelet-rich plasma

The most common procedures performed on equine soft tissue injuries are the injection of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells. Platelets are cells found in the blood that are vital to the healing process. They stimulate the growth of blood vessels, while bringing nutrients and oxygen to the injured tissue. Unfortunately, some injuries and the subsequent secondary injuries are too severe and the soft tissue never fully heals (see Figure 3 below), even with PRP treatment.

Figures 3: Ligament after PRP treatment
Figure 4: Ultrasound of ligament after stem cell therapy

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells are cells that can become any type of specialized cell. By using them in a soft tissue injury, connective tissue can form and accelerate healing. You can see in Figure 4 how there are no dark or gray spots in the ligament, meaning that all the holes have been filled with tissue. The owner of this horse decided to retire him and he lives a happy life as a pasture buddy today.

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