Clinical trials for Orthopedics specialty

  • Status: Not currently enrolling


    Injuries of the flexor tendons and suspensory ligament (the flexor apparatus) are a common occurrence in equine athletes. Unfortunately, the tendon and ligament healing response in both horses and humans is slow and often inadequate.  In some sporting activities, 23–67% of horses with tendon injury treated using conservative methods re-injure their tendons within 2 years. Surgical intervention provides little added benefit.

    These authors consider that sub-optimal rehabilitation programs often impede a timely return to soundness. While equine veterinarians are increasingly aware of the need for carefully controlled early re-introduction of exercise following injury, precisely how and when to implement activity is the subject of debate. If flexor apparatus loads are introduced too soon, or if they are of excessive magnitude or frequency, healing can be delayed or re-injury may occur.

    Our goal is to develop protective leg wear that will facilitate early safe return to rehabilitative exercise. The legwear is worn bilaterally. It is designed to mechanically limit peak fetlock extension. This allows us to limit peak flexor apparatus loads (stress) and corresponding flexor strains (stretch) to within physiologic norms (for that point in the horse’s rehabilitation). This will effectively prevent over-extension and/or over-loading of the injured tissue(s) and, at the same time, promote symmetric weight-bearing by reducing motion- and load-related pain.

    In this specific phase of the overall study we propose to assess weight-bearing at the walk and trot in horses with unilateral (single limb) flexor apparatus injury in the absence and presence of the protective legwear. We expect that the leg wear will allow increased loading of the injured limb as determined by force plate gait analysis. Reduction in clinical lameness should occur simultaneously.

    Inclusion Criteria:

    • Horses will have confirmed unilateral forelimb flexor apparatus injury (a ‘suspensory’, ‘tendinopathy’ ‘tendonitis’, etc.) of known dimension and severity, as characterized by ultrasound or MRI.
    • Horses will have confirmed unilateral forelimb lameness emanating from the flexor injury on the affected limb.


    Exclusion criteria:

    • Horses with asymmetric conformation of the forelimbs.
    • Horses with concurrent disease or injury.
    • Horses with greater than a lameness grade 2.5 (this corresponds to a horse with lameness that is difficult to observe at a walk, but is consistently mildly lame at the trot). This will allow us to effectively exclude horses that are still experiencing an acute or severe injury (lameness reflects pain that generally reflects injury extent and severity).

    Client Benefits:

     This gait analysis study will be performed at no cost to you, the client. Additionally, you will be given a check for $400 to help cover any costs associated with your horse’s routine treatment for its injury at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.  Your horse’s participation will allow us to gain information which will help in the rehabilitation of yours and others’ horses with flexor apparatus injury through the use of our leg wear. You understand that your horse’s participation in this study may not alleviate or cure his/her injury.

    Contact Information:

    For questions regarding the clinical trial please email the clinical trials technician, Diane Welsh at:  clinicaltrials@tufts.edu