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FAQ: Can the Q be used on a treadmill?

By Equinosis Logo Equinosis Staff | Updated on | Data Collection, Equinosis Staff, FAQ, Research, Treadmill

FAQ: Can the Q be used on a treadmill?

Yes, much development work was conducted on a treadmill.  It certainly makes collection of stride data very convenient – if one owns a treadmill, but the treadmill creates artificial controlled conditions.

Based on some studies at the University of Missouri, it has been shown that the best way to evaluate lameness in the horse is not on the treadmill, but overground.  On the treadmill horses move differently than overground.  Forces on the limbs are different.  On the treadmill you would expect increased horizontal impact on the limbs and a decreased requirement for hind limb propulsion.  The horse simply has to pick up its legs, like running in place, to stay up.  These differences make lameness on the treadmill much different than lameness over ground, the natural state of affairs.  Lameness Locator was designed to use on horses traveling over ground.

Therefore, if the intent is to assess and treat a clinical patient for lameness, we recommend conducting evaluations over ground.  If the intent is to study something requiring multiple contiguous strides and the study cannot be reasonably accomplished over ground, for instance comparing to line-of-site kinematic analysis (which is primarily restricted to the treadmill laboratory in order to get enough strides), or for some reason it is necessary to collect a lot of stride data from many horses for a particular study, using the inertial sensors on a horse on the treadmill is acceptable.  Similarly, monitoring for change or rehabilitation in a horse may be accomplished on the treadmill.  When convenience and a consistency of controlled conditions is most relevant to the purpose of study then it is hard to beat the value of the treadmill.   

In summary, the lameness you measure on the treadmill can be much different than the lameness you measure over ground.  Because of this there is increased danger of uncovering irrelevant information, a problem of highly sensitive measurements in scientific and clinical endeavors.  The Q will measure what is truly happening to the horse, but is what is truly happening to the horse important?

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