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Motion Sensors Assess Lameness in Horses

Professor of equine surgery at the College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Missouri, Kevin Keegan, has developed a novel system called ‘Lameness Locator’ using motion sensors to assess lameness in horses.

Lameness is a common ailment that affects horses. It may affect single or multiple limbs. Early detection is necessary for successful treatment of the ailment. Determination of equine lameness relies on the visual observation by experts. Objective methods such as high speed cameras and treadmills to detect lameness are expensive and not practical.

Kevin Keegan has teamed up with Yoshiharu Yonezawa at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology in Japan and Frank Pai, a MU mechanical engineering professor to develop the sensor system. Small sensors are placed on the horse’s croup, head, near the tail and on the right front limb. The horse is allowed to trot and its torso movement is monitored and recorded through the sensors. Veterinarians can compare these recordings with the data recorded from lame and healthy horses. The Lameness Locator samples the horse’s motion at a frequency higher than the perception of the human eye, leading to a better evaluation of the horse’s condition.

The project has received a $500,000 Small Business Technology Transfer Phase II Grant from the National Science Foundation for further R&D of the technology.



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