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Basic three-dimensional kinematics of the vertebral column of horses trotting on a treadmill

Marjan Faber PhD1,2, Christopher Johnston DVM, PhD3, Henk Schamhardt PhD†4, René van Weeren DVM, PhD5, Lars Roepstorff DVM, PhD6, and Ab Barneveld DVM, PhD7
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  • 1 Equine Biomechanics Research Group, Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 2 Present address is the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Free University Amsterdam, v/d Boechorststraat 7-9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • | 3 Equine Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Anatomy and Histology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 5 Equine Biomechanics Research Group, Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 6 Equine Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Anatomy and Histology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 7 Equine Biomechanics Research Group, Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Objective—To determine movements of the vertebral column of horses during normal locomotion.

Animals—5 young Dutch Warmblood horses that did not have signs of back problems or lameness.

Procedure—Kinematics of 8 vertebrae (T6, T10, T13, T17, L1, L3, L5, and S3) and both tuber coxae were determined, using bone-fixated markers. Measurements were recorded when the horses were trotting on a treadmill at a constant speed of 4.0 m/s.

Results—Flexion-extension and axial rotation were characterized by a double sinusoidal pattern of motion during 1 stride cycle, whereas lateral bending was characterized by 1 peak and 1 trough. Ranges of motion for all vertebrae were: flexion-extension, 2.8o to 4.9o; lateral bending, 1.9° to 3.6°; axial rotation, 4.6° to 5.8°, except for T10 and T13, where the amount of axial rotation decreased to 3.1° and 3.3°, respectively.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—During locomotion, 3 types of rotations are evident in the thoracolumbar vertebrae. Regional differences are observed in the shape and timing of the rotations. These differences are related to actions of the limbs. The method described here for direct measurement of vertebral column motion provides insights into the complex movements of the thoracolumbar portion of the vertebral column in trotting horses. Information on normal kinematics is a prerequisite for a better understanding of abnormal function of the vertebral column in horses. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:757–764)

Abstract

Objective—To determine movements of the vertebral column of horses during normal locomotion.

Animals—5 young Dutch Warmblood horses that did not have signs of back problems or lameness.

Procedure—Kinematics of 8 vertebrae (T6, T10, T13, T17, L1, L3, L5, and S3) and both tuber coxae were determined, using bone-fixated markers. Measurements were recorded when the horses were trotting on a treadmill at a constant speed of 4.0 m/s.

Results—Flexion-extension and axial rotation were characterized by a double sinusoidal pattern of motion during 1 stride cycle, whereas lateral bending was characterized by 1 peak and 1 trough. Ranges of motion for all vertebrae were: flexion-extension, 2.8o to 4.9o; lateral bending, 1.9° to 3.6°; axial rotation, 4.6° to 5.8°, except for T10 and T13, where the amount of axial rotation decreased to 3.1° and 3.3°, respectively.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—During locomotion, 3 types of rotations are evident in the thoracolumbar vertebrae. Regional differences are observed in the shape and timing of the rotations. These differences are related to actions of the limbs. The method described here for direct measurement of vertebral column motion provides insights into the complex movements of the thoracolumbar portion of the vertebral column in trotting horses. Information on normal kinematics is a prerequisite for a better understanding of abnormal function of the vertebral column in horses. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:757–764)