Neurologic Evaluation and Treatment

Neurologic conditions in horses can range from infectious diseases such as West Nile or Herpes Viruses, protozoal causes such as Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalopathy (EPM), compressive lesions of the spinal cord such as Wobbler’s Disease, or trauma to the spine. To determine which of these problems the horse has, our specialists first perform a thorough neurologic evaluation to localize the disease to a specific area within the brain or spinal cord.

A neurologic evaluation consists of assessing cranial nerve function, checking for muscle atrophy or loss, watching the horse walk in a straight line and in circles, and observing the horse walk up and down hills. After this portion of the examination, additional diagnostic tests such as digital radiographs of the cervical spine (neck) or a spinal tap to sample the cerebrospinal fluid may be performed. If deemed warranted, myelography to further assess compressive lesions in the cervical spine can be performed on anesthetized horses.

Horses with neurologic conditions are housed in our specially designed padded stall equipped with a hoist. If needed, dynamic sling support is available to help these patients remain standing. If the horse is recumbent and unable to stand, thick mattresses are installed to allow cushioning of the horse’s muscles while it is laying down.