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Sensory input from the environment is the driving force that builds motor function in the brain, which in turn develops strength in muscles that help in maintaining more effective reflexes and responses to other environmental stimuli. In humans 40% of all sensory information enters the brain via the nerve fibers that travel through the area of the temporal mandibular joint. In quadrupeds, much of this is still true, however, the amount may be greater as their use of auditory, and olfactory information is greater than that in humans. So, while much of the sensory information that enters the brain originates via the face, head and neck, much of it comes from the sense of touch. In humans, most touch sensory organs are concentrated in our fingertips. In horses and dogs sensory nerves are located in the heel and frog region of the hoof of the horse and in the digital pads of the dog. This sensory information helps to shape the motor cortex and develop learned behavior in terms of ambulation, movement and gait. This information is key to the most important job of the brain, and the most important sensory input to the brain: defying gravity. Maintaining normal balance against gravity depends upon a lot of input, much of which comes from and involves the foot. In domestic horses this is dependent upon normal hoof care. This can be altered by unbalanced hoof trimming, peripheral loading devices, and poor blood flow. If your dog’s toe nails make noise on the floor when he walks then the nails are too long.
Both Dr Amy and Dr O consider themselves fortunate to be able to work on animal athletes. These patients exhibit great pride and character in completing their chosen profession. The human - animal bond shows some of its finer moments when we get to examine the connections between champion animal athlete and handler/owner. The stress of competition and traveling puts as much stress on the animal’s immune and nervous systems as it does their human counterparts. Dealing with the problems of an animal athlete usually requires knowledge and incorporation of most of the modalities used by the doctors. Successful treatment must also involve knowledge of the movements involved in the sport. Dr. Amy and Dr. O try to learn as much about each of the sports that their patients are involved in as possible. Their equine patients include all disciplines from 3 day eventing to roping, with almost every other equine sport included. Canine patients have won their classes at West Minster and National agility competitions. Winners from the Quarter Horse World and the National flyball dog champions call on these doctors when they need fine tuning. Both doctors would love to help you with your athlete.
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