UltrOZ At-Home Ultrasound System

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During the 60 days we used the UltrOZ LITUS therapy device, we saw beneficial results, and we believe this tool has a viable future in the equine physical therapy world.

TRADITIONAL SHOCKWAVE.? The benefit of extracorporeal shockwave therapy, aka ?acoustic shockwave,? isn?t new.? Horses with sore joints, bad backs or soft-tissue injuries have benefited tremendously. In most cases where extracorporeal shockwave is applied, the horse is brought to a hospital, although it can be performed on the farm if your vet is willing to do so.

Traditional therapeutic shockwave is intense. The horse must be sedated. The ?shocks? are uncomfortable to painful, and the machine is loud. However, it's quick.? A typical session usually entails between 1,000 and 1,500 shocks in 5 minutes.? The sessions are generally repeated three or four times in a month, and it's expensive, at around 40? per shock plus sedation for each session. (40? x 1500 = $600.)

The benefits are clear: Acoustic shockwave can increase blood flow to damaged tissues (speeds healing), numb nerve endings to reduce pain, penetrate deep into tissues, and loosen stiff joints. But we'd like to be able to provide this therapy without all of the hassles. that's where UltrOZ comes in.

Rather than create a high-intensity acoustic shockwave that is emitted on a fast interval, UltrOZ emits a low-intensity soundwave over a long period of time.? This Low Intensity Therapeutic Ultrasound (LITUS) system was developed at the Cornell Veterinary Hospital.

The wearable system is designed for daily use (2 to 6 hours), secured in a neoprene wrap and run by a rechargeable battery pack.

Our trial showed the system appeared safe and comfortable. So much so, that we felt most horses could be left unattended wearing it. Ultimately, it offers the same effect on the tissues that acoustic shockwave does, it just works ?long and low? rather than ?high and tight.?

SAFEGUARDS. The UltrOZ doesn't cause discomfort like the high-intensity acoustic shockwave. It will also shut off if the technology detects the tissue is becoming too hot. Its preset clinical levels can't be modified, so the owner can't injure the horse by choosing an incorrect setting. Basically, you charge it, strap it on, and let it work.

Here's how it works: The system comes with one ultrasound transducer that plugs into a battery pack, which is about the size of the keychain control that we use to unlock our cars. The transducer head is secured to the inside of a neoprene wrap and then positioned onto the desired site with ultrasound gel.? The wrap is secured to the leg (much like a gallop boot) and the battery pack fits neatly into a pocket on the outside.

DRAWBACKS. The chance to provide therapeutic ultrasound for a horse with an acute injury or a chronic condition is valuable.? But sometimes therapy must be halted due to unavoidable time constraints (like the owner working for a living).? The fact that this system can be applied and left without supervision is a plus.

However, neoprene is known to cause skin problems in horses (fungus, bacteria, hair loss, etc.).? It can cause excessive sweating because it doesn't breathe.? The manufacturer made this version of the neoprene as ?skin friendly? as possible by lining it with cloth, and it's easily washable.

We didn't see any skin problems, despite the wraps being on for extended periods of time, so we'd consider the neoprene concern likely limited to sensitive horses.

Some horses may fiddle with the wraps.? If left unattended for long periods of time, as is the case with this therapy system, your horse may pull the wrap loose.? To protect your investment, UltrOZ offers an extended warranty.?If your horse destroys a unit, they will repair or replace it. Of course, they can't provide replacements forever. The representatives will work with owners to figure out solutions to horses that are hard on systems.?Difficult horses may need to be cross-tied during the therapy, with supervision.

The hair does have to be clipped in order for the system to work. Depending on the area, the clipping may make your horse look a little? well, patchy.? Again, not a huge concern vs. the benefits.

BOTTOM LINE. Although you don't need a vet to use this device, it's a good idea. You should have a firm diagnosis and anticipated prognosis before treatment. See?Case Reports.

We found that the UltrOZ therapy has a proven beneficial effect. We also think that, when you consider traditional by-veterinarian acoustic shockwave session costs $500 to $750, the cost is reasonable. Plus, tHere's no pain. that's big.

We believe as the company refines and diversifies their product line, low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound will become widely used.

The UItrOZ LITUS Elite System costs $1,295. Rental is $198/month, with a one-month deposit. (If you purchase the unit they will credit two months toward the purchase price.) The lease option is similar to a car lease. www.ultroz.com, 888-202-9831.

Article by Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller DVM.