Sue Palmer MCSP: “In terms or rehabilitation and maintenance, do you have advice on variations of frequency of use?”
Sue Palmer MCSP: “And I believe that’s the same in the human field.”
Dr Nicole Rombach: “Absolutely. There’s a strong body of evidence with that. The muscles that are involved with dynamic stability, so superficially the transversus abdominus, which is fascially connected to the rectus abdominus muscle, deeper perivertebral (around the spine) we have the deep multifidus, the stabiliser muscle of the spine that runs across the dorsal aspect (atop the vertebral bodies), then deeper down in the back we have the psoas complex as well. So again, when there is a dysfunction in these muscles, when they do not activate as they should because of lesion or injury to a particular area, pain can be removed but that muscle function is not automatically reactivated. That is why you need a constant light proprioceptive input or stimulus to retrain that particular neural pattern or movement pattern.”
Sue Palmer MCSP: "Is there a stage at which that neural pattern has been retrained and then you could use the Equiband perhaps once a week as a reinforcement?”
Dr Nicole Rombach: “Yes, absolutely. In movement retraining or neural pattern programming, it is individual dependent, but essentially, three to four weeks will see an integration of that motor pattern into normal movement, it becomes an automatic pattern. So as a suggestion, the band system would be used daily for three to four weeks, and from there on, start to play with intervals. So for example two days on, a day off, which then turns onto one day on, two days off. A lot of folks have asked whether this is a training aid that puts a horse in a position, and I have to say that this is completely contrary to the intention. What we want to do here is through stimulus, rebuild that motor pathway, that movement output, that retraining in the brain. So the idea really is that over time, its use becomes less frequent. It’s up to the rider, or ind eed the clinician or therapist in the therapeutic setting, to recognise whether that motor pattern is holding.
And then, as part of a general maintenance program, it really varies. On my horse, for example, who is using it as part of a general conditioning program, I’ll use it twice a week, one day during hacking for example, one day using the abdominal band in low cavalletti training (a low jumping session), one day perhaps for the flatwork. Remembering again that the muscles that are being recruited are large compartmentalised muscles. So in different movements, for example in dressage movement we find they are recruited differently, and also repetitively, to for example when you’re hacking out. So again I feel that the idea of switching it up from an input to the brain is really useful.”
Sue Palmer MCSP: “Sometimes using it in the school, sometimes using it going up and down hills, sometimes using it over some poles…”
Dr Nicole Rombach: “Absolutely.”
Sue Palmer MCSP: “And I’m guessing there’s a difference in hand and ridden as well, so sometimes using it in hand and sometimes using it ridden is beneficial?”
Dr Nicole Rombach: “Yes. From the in hand perspective, I find it’s an incredibly useful tool in the early stages of rehab. So the horse has been laid up with, for example, a suspensory ligament injury, but has been cleared for hand walking. Ideally during that rehabilitation time in the stable a program of ground activation exercises has already been introduced. Once the movement retraining starts in hand, it’s an ideal time to introduce the Equiband system, because you’re getting the core activation but you’re not loading the structures that have been affected by the lesion."