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Today, veterinarians have a variety of regenerative therapies they  employ to help equine athletes return to full functionality following an injury.  Miller & Associates uses many of these state-of-the-art treatments,  including Stem Cell Therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) and  Interleluikin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) Therapy.

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative therapy is an emerging field in equine medicine, most particularly for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. The soft tissues and joints of equine athletes are often under repetitive stress and are more susceptible to injury, especially tendons and ligaments. Traditionally, these conditions are difficult to treat and full recovery takes time and patience.

Today, veterinarians have a variety of regenerative therapies they employ to help equine athletes return to full functionality following an injury. Miller & Associates uses many of these state-of-the-art treatments, including Stem Cell Therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) and Interleluikin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) Therapy.

One reason these regenerative treatments are so critical in the healing process is due to the way tendon and ligament injuries heal. Injured tendons, ligaments and other structures frequently repair with scar tissue rather than with pure tendon and ligament tissue. Scar tissue, though structurally strong, is also significantly less elastic than un-injured soft tissue.

Once an injury has occurred and healed with scar tissue, the affected tendon or ligament is more brittle and prone to re-injury. It’s important to remember that these therapies are intended to improve the quality of healing and prevent re-injury. They are not intended to shorten the time it takes an injury to heal.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is one of the most popular and useful new regenerative therapies and is currently used for a variety of applications. The goal of stem cell therapy is to promote healing with as little scar tissue as possible.

Stem cells are immature, vigorous cells that mature into any of the hundreds of various body cell types–nerve, blood, heart, muscle, fat, bone, cartilage, etc. They have plasticity, meaning they are adaptable and capable of being manipulated into becoming different types of cells. It’s this type of adaptability that’s so promising for treating equine tendons, ligaments, joints and bones. Often, injuries at these sites cannot repair themselves to a stable, pre-injured status.

The veterinarian collects stem cells from the horse through his bone marrow or adipose fat, which is then sent to a lab where the cells are cultured and processed. Once prepared and returned to the clinic, the veterinarian injects these stem cells into the damaged area. Stem cells may be reintroduced regionally or locally, depending on the damaged area, in order to aid in functional healing.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

PRP is a new treatment for tendon and ligament injuries that prompts the horse’s body to accelerate injury recovery.

In PRP therapy, the veterinarian uses the horse’s own blood, which is spun in a centrifuge to isolate plasma with a high concentration of platelets and other growth factors. This PRP serum is then injected into the injury site to stimulate the healing process.

Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein Therapy

IRAP therapy is most often used to treat joint or tendon sheath inflammation. The IRAP protein is naturally present in the horse’s body and produces regenerative and anti-inflammatory responses in the joints without the use of drugs.

Using the horse’s own blood, the veterinarian collects these proteins, concentrates them and injects them into the injured joint.

IRAP therapy has been shown to dramatically improve arthritic joints and protect the cartilage matrix from further degradation. Through its anti-inflammatory attributes, IRAP has also been shown to decrease inflammation in joints and further alleviate pain.

IRAP therapy is especially useful for horses that do not show improvement through traditional intra-articular therapy, including cortisone and/or hyaluronic acid injections.