This air turbulated temperature-controlled footbath with front and rear compartments is a proprietary hydrotherapy unit designed and developed by Dr. Liberman in 1985. The footbath, which has a temperature range from 45° to 115°, can be used for any vaso-active manipulation, depending on diagnosis, but is primarily used in the treatment of laminitis and its various resulting implications.
The benefits of this treatment are to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and provide “vascular exercise” in the application of hot and cold therapy baths in the same session. Horses can tolerate relatively high temperatures (110° to 112° F) for prolonged periods. The result of this is good vasodilatation. Concentrated cold (45° to 55° F) can also be applied, particularly for Acute Laminitis.
The concept of how hydrotherapy affects the laminar structure of the hoof is simple. The application of desired temperature over time will then give the desired result: prolonged hot temperature gives vasodilation, and prolonged cold temperature gives vasoconstriction. The use of one vs. the other, or the application of both, is relevant to the clinical condition diagnosed and the length of time the disease exists. The complicating factors are the existence of Arterio-Venous Anastamoses (AVAs) that are responsible for shunting blood away from the laminar capillary beds. These are a key issue in laminitis.
The danger is that the inflammation rages out of control and hinders the healing process, resulting in secondary tissue damage called hypoxic injury which can compound the problem. The blood vessels in the area are also under pressure from the fluid buildup, which hinders the blood and lymph flow that is necessary for the healing process.
The safest way to break the cycle of destructive secondary cellular injury and excess edema is to use the horse’s circulatory system to clear out the excess fluids and toxins that have collected in the tissues. The “vaso-active” manipulation of the blood vessels helps clear out the excess fluids and toxins, as well as to help re-establish good micro circulatory flow. Typically, Epsom salts and liniments are added to the hot water bath.