Construction of a Realistic, Whole-Body, Three-Dimensional Equine Skeletal Model using Computed Tomography Data

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Therapies based upon whole-body biomechanical assessments are successful for injury prevention and rehabilitation in human athletes. Similar approaches have rarely been used to study equine athletic injury. Degenerative osteoarthritis caused by mechanical stress can originate from chronic postural dysfunction, which, because the primary dysfunction is often distant from the site of tissue injury, is best identified through modeling whole-body biomechanics. To characterize whole-body equine kinematics, a realistic skeletal model of a horse was created from equine computed tomography (CT) data that can be used for functional anatomical and biomechanical modeling. Equine CT data were reconstructed into individual three-dimensional (3D) data sets (i.e., bones) using 3D visualization software and assembled into a complete 3D skeletal model. The model was then rigged and animated using 3D animation and modeling software. The resulting 3D skeletal model can be used to characterize equine postures associated with degenerative tissue changes as well as to identify postures that reduce mechanical stress at the sites of tissue injury. In addition, when animated into 4D, the model can be used to demonstrate unhealthy and healthy skeletal movements and can be used to develop preventative and rehabilitative individualized therapies for horses with degenerative lamenesses. Although the model will soon be available for download, it is currently in a format that requires access to the 3D animation and modeling software, which has quite a learning curve for new users. This protocol will guide users in (1) developing such a model for any organism of interest and (2) using this specific equine model for their own research questions.

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE

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