Anettte Wilson | 0447337276

Managing Neuromuscular Disorganisation and Injury in Horses and Humans

Every injury results in a reaction to the function of the nervous system.

Muscles are activated by a neural action.   Motor nerves run from the brain down to the muscles. The nervous system generates a signal (this is a voluntary action ) to activate and contract the muscle. The sensory nerves run from the body back up to the brain with a message about what is happening.

For example, if you want to straighten your leg the nerve to the quads sends an electrical impulse to the motor point in the muscle and this commands the muscle to contract. This is an efferent command ( a motor signal). The muscle then sends a signal (message) back to the brain about the contraction. This is an afferent signal. (Sensory signal).

Problems start when the afferent (sensory) and efferent (motor) commands become disorganized or inhibited due to pain, injury, or overuse or underuse or poor biomechanics.

In the limbs, the pain will inhibit the efferent (motor) signal. This results in the muscle becoming inactive (mostly the postural muscles). It will waste, lose strength and become flaccid and difficult to activate.

In the spine, the pain has a different effect on the muscles. Pain sends an afferent (sensory) message to the brain to protect the area. The brain sends an efferent (motor) command to spasm (over-activate) the spinal muscles. At the same time, the pain sends a sensory message to the brain to deactivate the core muscles.

So back pain results in spasms and core inhibition.

Peripheral joint pain results in significant inhibition of muscles.

Treatment involves treating the pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Once the pain starts to settle deliberate muscle activation and deactivation techniques start.

To activate a muscle we apply a sensory input to send a message to the brain to reactivate the command to contract. There is a specific process for this.

To deactivate spasms in a  muscle we apply a sensory input to send a message to the brain to deactivate the overactivity in the muscle. There are numerous techniques for this.

To start rehab, the aim is to normalize the neural function.

Pain-free is the first target and full strength with good functional mobility is the second target and finally to manage a pain-free lifestyle. 

Treatment comes in many forms.

Sensory activation comes in many forms. Motor activation comes in many forms.

Talk to your Dr. and Physio for an assessment and return to life program.

How to Manage Neuromuscular Disorganisation in the Horse.

Horses like humans present with a very common pattern and posture of dysfunction.

The most common is a high head posture with overactive neck muscles on the underside and weak wasted underactive muscle on the top side. Many have poor muscle bulk (strength) along their spine and rump. This is visually obvious and demonstrated functionally.

To start a treatment rehab program your starting point is a full veterinary workup.

Do not skip this step.

Performance and recreational horses that have not been injured can start a fitness strength program immediately.

The horse will not follow instructions or do homework so your input is only valid when your horse is in hand or ridden.

It is imperative to have knowledge of the biomechanical patterns for movement for stability and rest. Your training will use these natural mechanics for change. The process to deactivate tight short muscles must coincide with the activation of weak inactive muscles.

Never use force but using pressure release or continuous sensory input appropriately will allow the horses’ nervous system to reorganize.

The use of correctly placed weight will provide a sensory input to activate and strengthen moving muscles.

The use of an Equine Core Sensory Belt will provide continuous sensory input to activate the postural stabilizing muscle.

By following a time-sensitive program as well as correct biomechanical movement patterns you can reorganize your horse’s neuromuscular disorganization and dysfunction. Once this is achieved you can train your horse for your discipline with less resistance, fight, or drama.

The same applies to the rider!