OSU College of Vet Med Acquires Gait Force Analyzer To Help Quantify Lameness

Staff members at Oklahoma State University's Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital collect data from the new gait force analyzer. The technology helps veterinarians assess the degree of lameness in animals.Thanks to a new piece of technology in OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, veterinarians will now be able to quantify the degree of lameness in animals with sore legs or feet.

Through a gift from John and Betty Stambaugh of Mannford, along with grants from the Office of Veterinary Research and the Dean's office, a $30,000 gait force analyzer has been purchased.It consists of a pressure-sensitive force plate and a dedicated computer, which receives information from the force plate as an animal walks on it. The computer then registers a visual measurement of the downward force of the foot.

When an animal has a sore foot or leg, it will naturally not bear as much weight on that leg, said Dr. Henry Jann, associate professor in the department of veterinary clinical sciences. "It doesn't take a gait analyzer to tell us something is wrong with an animal's leg or foot," Jann said. "That is usually visually obvious. This technology will be helpful in quantifying the actual degree of lameness and response to various forms of therapy," Jann said.

He added that problems which will be investigated include navicular syndrome, laminitis, fracture repair, arthritis, and tendonitis in horses. Clinical problems which could be investigated in dogs include various forms of degenerative joint disease, including hip dysplasia, he said.

Dr. Subbiah Sangiah, professor in the department of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, who is collaborating with Jann on several research projects dealing with musculoskeletal problems, said the acquisition of this equipment makes the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine one of a very few in the United States with these technological capabilities.The equipment is currently in use in many sports medicine applications. It is used by Nike, Fila, and other athletic shoe manufacturers to test foot support and shock absorbency. Ford Motor Company also uses this instrument to measure the force of their crash tests. The U.S. Olympic Committee uses it to measure kick-off pressure in high diving competition.

Ken Wagener, field representative for the Kistler Instrument Corporation of Amhurst, New York, the manufacturer of the Analyzer, said the force plate makes use of the piezoelectrical phenomenon. There are pressure sensitive crystals in the force plate which, when compressed, generate a small electrical current proportional to the downward pressure exerted on the plate. That electrical signal is then amplified and presented in graphic form by the computer.

The equipment will ultimately be housed in a new gait laboratory building, which will become an integral part of the already established Equine Research Park directed by Dr. Charles MacAllister. It will provide researchers at OSU a powerful tool to help treat pain associated with musculoskeletal diseases of both horses and dogs.

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