Researcher develops wearable ultrasound device for horses

A Cornell medical ultrasound researcher has developed what is claimed to be the first wearable, therapeutic ultrasound device for the equine market.

Nearly the size of an iPod Nano, the battery-operated device fits within specially engineered neoprene leg wraps. With it, horses can exercise or feed in a pasture unencumbered while receiving up to six hours of unsupervised ultrasound therapy.

George Lewis, the Cornell researcher who developed the UltrOZ device, has now founded a spin-off company called ZetrOZ, and is selling the device through FarmVet, a distributor of equine products.

For years, veterinarians have used ultrasound to reduce inflammation and promote healing in horses, but the equipment was bulky. The new device is simple to attach to a horse and provides comfort and reduces pain.

Ultrasound is acoustic wave energy that stimulates cellular activity through mechanical vibrations and micro-massage tissue at a cellular level. Ultrasound accelerates and compresses the inflammatory phase of healing, increases local circulation, boosts cellular permeability, improves collagen synthesis, decreases oedema, and causes the release of cytokines and natural analgesics for pain control.

About two of every three competitive horses suffer an injury or chronic condition, and most can benefit from prolonged ultrasound therapy, Lewis said. UltrOZ is recommended for use on injured tendons, splints, muscle tear, arthritis and bone fracture repair. The therapy is entirely non-pharmaceutical and can be used on performance horses without risk of side effects or testing complications.

The UltrOZ device has been tested by equine veterinarians and therapists at the Rood & Riddle and Hagyard equine hospitals. Veterinarians reported increased bone healing, quick reductions in inflammation, and increased rates of healing in tendon and ligament injuries.