Study author (s): Sheila Schils a,*, Ugo Carraro b,1, Tracy Turner c, Barbara Ravara d, Valerio Gobbo e, Helmut Kern f, Lin Gelbmann g, Jamie Pribyl h
Publisher/Date: Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, August 17, 2015
A study published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science has found a link between Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and a decrease in muscle hypertonicity in older horses. Increase in mitochondrial density and distribution is an indicator of increased muscle plasticity. Increase in mitochondrial density occurs with endurance training, especially aerobic exercise. In this case, the density of mitochondria was used as an indicator of the impact of FES on the muscles in question.
Improvement was measured by comparing photographs of the horses’ toplines as well as assessing the density and distribution of mitochondria in muscle samples taken from the horses’ longissimus lumborum muscles pre- and post-treatment. Treatment involved twenty-two, thirty-five minute treatments over eight weeks performed on the epaxial muscles. The study involved six horses (ranging in age from 10–17 years) that had performed mainly in dressage. The horses had not been ridden in at least one year due to unusually tight back muscles..
In assessing the photographs of the horses’ toplines, improvement could be seen in the lordosis of the thoracic and lumbar epaxial muscles and the muscular symmetry after treatments. In assessing the mitochondrial density post-treatment, the four oldest horses showed great improvement, whereas the improvement shown by the two youngest horses was not significant, suggesting the effects of FES may be more dramatic in aged muscle.
To view the research in its entirety, go to http://www.j-evs.com/article/S0737-0806(15)00515-8/abstract