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Does the range of motion in the bovine interphalangeal joints change with flooring condition? A pilot study using biplane high-speed fluoroscopic kinematography

Weiss, M., Hainke, K., Grund, S., Gerlach, K., Mülling, C.K.W., Geiger, S.M.
Journal of dairy science 2019 v.102 no.2 pp. 1443-1456
Holstein, animal welfare, biomechanics, claws, computed tomography, concrete, floors, heifers, joints (animal), lameness, mechanical stress, models, rubber, standard deviation, tissues
This study had 2 objectives. The first objective was to investigate motion patterns and the range of motion of the bovine proximal and distal interphalangeal joints on concrete during the stance phase. The second objective was to determine whether the range of motion and the locomotive stability of the interphalangeal joints differ on concrete and 3 different commercially available rubber mats (Karera, Kura, and Pedikura; Kraiburg Elastik GmbH & Co. KG, Tittmoning, Germany). Biplane high-speed fluoroscopic kinematography (72 ± 2.5 kV and 112.5 ± 12.5 mA, refresh rate 500 frames per second, shutter 0.5 ms) was applied to record 1 stance phase of the right forelimb of 2 Holstein Friesian heifers (15 mo old, 440 ± 10 kg; ± standard deviation) on each flooring. Three-dimensional digital animations were generated with a marker-supported manual animation technique based on the recordings and computer tomographic bone models. The mean maximum range of motion of each of the 4 interphalangeal joints in terms of flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, and internal/external rotation were calculated as well as the mean number of local extrema as a measure of stability during the stance phase. The main degree of freedom in all interphalangeal joints was flexion and extension with a range of motion of 17.7 to 25.9°. The second largest degree of freedom differed between abduction/adduction (7.7–10.0°) and internal/external rotation (6.5–9.6°) depending on the joint. Remarkably, although smaller, these extrasagittal directions still contribute to the overall motion to a considerable degree. In addition, the interphalangeal joints of the lateral digit showed a tendency to move less during the stance phase than their medial counterparts. Comparing concrete to the rubber mats, the interphalangeal joints tend to have to cover a larger range of motion on concrete with the exception of the distal interphalangeal joint in terms of flexion/extension. The unyielding surface of concrete seems to force the flexible parts of the animal-ground-interaction into extended motion. Furthermore, there tends to be more instability in all 3 degrees of freedom in all 4 joints on concrete, implying a greater effort of the soft tissues to achieve a balanced motion. Detailed biomechanical research contributes to the development of adequate flooring systems by evaluating the mechanical strain on claws and joints and working toward lameness prevention and thus animal welfare.