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The Effect of Core Abdominal Muscle Rehabilitation Exercises on Return to Training and Performance in Horses After Colic Surgery

Holcombe, Susan J., Shearer, Tara R., Valberg, Stephanie J.
Journal of equine veterinary science 2019 v.75 pp. 14-18
cohort studies, colic, data analysis, horses, medical records, muscles, regression analysis, surgery
We conducted a retrospective cohort study to test the hypothesis that performing 4 weeks of core abdominal rehabilitation exercises (CARE) postoperatively would be safe and associated with faster return to training and improved performance after colic surgery. Performance horses that recovered from colic surgery performed by the same surgeon and survived ≥ 1 year from 2008 to 2017 were included. Data were obtained from a review of medical records. Information about the horses’ rehabilitation and performance was obtained from owners/trainers. Data from horses that completed a 4-week CARE program after surgery were compared with control horses that did not do the exercises after colic surgery. Data were analyzed using univariate and multiple regression, P < .05. Eleven CARE horses and 51 controls between the ages of 3 and 18 years were included in the data analysis. All CARE horses completed the rehabilitation program with no reported complications, returned to work faster after surgery, P = .002, and to training faster, P = .0002. After colic surgery, 81% of CARE horses improved their performance level compared with 7.8% of controls, P < .001. Core abdominal rehabilitation exercises were safely performed by horses after colic surgery with no reported complications and may have facilitated faster convalescence and improved performance.