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Regeneration

After the reaction stage, there are two other stages that traumatic injuries go through. These are called regeneration and remodelling.

In the regeneration stage the horse's body builds new capillaries to replace the damaged ones. This process is known as angiogenesis and starts the rebuilding of the damaged connective tissue. It does this by making collagen strands. Collagen is made up of amino acids - amino acids are the small subunits of protein. Consequently the diet must contain enough protein to help make these collagen strands.

If you look at a forest, all of the trees are parallel with each other. Once in a while you will see a tree that has fallen down and has been caught in another tree. Collagen fibers are similar to this. Collagen is supposed to be in parallel lines. After an injury the horse's body (around the injury site) makes a mesh with the collagen fibres going in all directions.

Another example might be the kid's game "pick up sticks". All of the collagen fibres should be parallel. But after an injury they look like the sticks when they are dropped. The fibres are running in all directions. In order to make a strong bond at the sight of the injury, these crossing of fibres – or cross-links – are necessary. One problem is that these crossed links limit the range of motion of the structures that have been injured and the horse may not be able to move its shoulder or leg (injured part) as it once did. In the last stage of healing, re-modeling the cross links (and scarring) are slowly reduced and range of motion is increased.

In this regeneration stage, we want to continue to minimise any swelling and inflammation and stimulate protein production of the collagen bonds. Controlled motion and Bioptron Light therapy helps to ensure that most of the collagen will be laid down in the lines of the normal joint action. In humans and horses dietary modification to ensure adequate protein intake is very important, as is limiting foods and substances that encourage the inflammatory process. This would include in humans an excess of animal fats, alcohol and partially hydrogenated fats. Increasing dose for horses of omega three oils, EPA and treating externally with Bioptron will help to limit any inflammation. To ensure adequate protein intake, small servings of protein should be consumed throughout the day. Our goal is to make sure that the muscles that have been damaged are treated and made functional. Ligaments that have been damaged may need support both structurally and nutritionally, keeping the joints aligned properly will allow the damaged structures to heal back at their normal lengths. This stage of the healing goes from 48 hours after the injury in a mild case, to over 8 weeks in a more severe injury, this may be greatly shortened by Bioptron light therapy.

Dietary modification to ensure adequate protein intake is very important, so is limiting food and substances that encourage the inflammatory process (heating and over-vasculation to be avoided).

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