The Effect of a Physiotherapy Intervention on Thoracolumbar Posture in Horses

Amy Shakeshaft, Gillian Tabor

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


Dynamic mobilisation exercises (DME) are often used as part of a physiotherapy rehabilitation programme. Whilst immediate kinematic effects have been measured, the change in posture is anecdotally reported to have a longer duration. This study aimed to test the reliability of a simple objective measurement method, suitable for use in clinical practice, and to objectively measure equine thoracolumbar posture, before and after DME. A single investigator took triplicate measurements of the sagittal thoracolumbar shape using a flexicurve ruler (FCR) then triplicate measurements of the thoracolumbar shape using an adapted FCR (aFCR) in 37 horses. Subsequently, the thoracolumbar shape of 12 horses was measured using the aFCR before random allocation into two groups. Six horses acted as a control group and six horses underwent a series of DME, which included cervical flexion and lateral flexion baited stretches. Measurements were repeated prior to DME, at thirty minutes, one hour and at twenty-four hours after DME to assess thoracolumbar posture. The aFCR ruler had excellent intra-rater reliability compared to a standard FCR (aFCR: p = 0.146; intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.971; FCR: p = 0.0001; ICC 0.979). Significant increases in flexion occurred in the thoracolumbar region at 30 min (p = 0.027) and one hour (p = 0.046) after DME, but not at 24 h (p > 0.05) with no significant differences in the control group (p > 0.05) between baseline and subsequent times. The results suggest DME create a short-term postural change, determined by using an aFCR, which supports their use as part of a veterinary physiotherapy rehabilitation programme.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Early online date28 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2020


  • Equine physiotherapy
  • Equine posture
  • Equine rehabilitation
  • Objective measurement


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