Shock waves ease steps to recovery

Tomy Hillers

Shock treatment typically used to disintegrate human kidney stones now helps horses with lame hoofs at Iowa State.

Scott McClure, the second veterinarian in the nation to practice the technique, started treating horses in August 2000.

The shock therapy is used at the College of Veterinary Medicine, McClure said.

“The procedure is actually very common here at Iowa State,” he said. “It is a technique which is used on a weekly basis, and during weeks of heavy case loads, shock therapy is used daily.”

McClure, assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences, said an apparatus that uses pulses of high-pressure waves to cure sore feet is used during the treatment.

“The pressure of the waves are close to 500 and 1,000 times that of atmospheric pressure,” he said.

At this time the reason for the success of the procedure can only be theorized, McClure said. One theory is that the pressure waves stimulate the growth of blood vessels and therefore promotes the healing of the bone and ligaments in the horses hoofs.

McClure learned about the shock therapy after traveling to Norman, Okla.

“Now there are approximately six other people in the nation who practice the technique,” he said.

Van Snow, veterinarian from Santa Ynez, Calif., said he was instructed on the technique of shock therapy by McClure, and now treats more than 60 cases a year.

“I was contacted by a professor from the University of Colorado who put me in touch with Dr. McClure,” Snow said. “He visited my operation for three days and that’s when we began treating horses here in Santa Ynez.”

Snow said the shock therapy is very successful due to the fact that there are very few cases of relapse and most horses can be cured with a single, noninvasive treatment.

“In many cases surgery would have been the only answer for a horse with a lame hoof,” he said. “Shock therapy allows the horse to remain active after the treatment.”