Those of us who have lived through a horse’s soft-tissue injury and healing know it’s no picnic, months of stall rest with sometimes hairy hand-walking and multiple ultrasound appointments, which you hope will show some sign of healing. It’s awful!
The ordeal takes nine months to a year, and after that, we’re forever sensitive to the slightest misstep our horse takes, or to any swelling that we may detect in their limbs.
We’re all aware of the “cornerstones” of acute injury treatment in horses: rest, cold therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. But human athletes also keep the injured limb elevated. How can we elevate our horse’s limb? That would be a feat!
Game Ready Equine has answered this call with a revolutionary therapy system that combines cold and compressive forces to mimic limb elevation, thus enhancing healing and managing inflammation on a day-to-day basis. After using a unit on several different horses, we can offer you an in-depth look at the Game Ready Equine System.
It’s High Tech. Game Ready is in use in many performance barns, but few actually understand it. Game Ready joined the human athletic realm in the late 1990s as a physical therapy modality for managing inflammation and soft-tissue injuries, such as acute tendon injuries, ligament strains and post-surgery recovery. The technology was originally developed for NASA to use in astronaut space suits.
Believe it or not, the circulation of blood in our bodies is heavily influenced by gravity. In instances such as “G-Force rolls,” encountered with combat jets and space missions with zero gravity, circulation to extremities can become compromised. Game Ready uses a pneumatic (air driven) intermittent compression system that rhythmically and repeatedly squeezes body tissues to enhance circulation.
Game Ready Equine provides the ability to control both temperature and pressure within a flexible garment. It achieves what physical therapists have termed RICE (Rest + Ice + Compression + Elevation).
HOW IT WORKS. Game Ready contains a central motorized compressor that pushes air through pressurized tubes and into a special inflatable wrap. Simultaneously, ice water is pumped from a central chamber in the compressor unit through tubes into the same wrap.
The machine then runs on a compression cycle, periodically increasing the air pressure and then releasing it, which creates a squeezing effect on the soft tissues where the wrap is applied. This also forces continual circulation of ice water, so that no one area warms up.
The effect is a highly efficient constant cold in the applied area, along with compression to reduce swelling and enhance circulation.
The Game Ready Equine System is easily portable and runs off of a standard electrical socket or the rechargeable battery incorporated into the unit. It requires ice and about three gallons of tap water. it’s quiet and can sit alongside a cross- tied horse while it runs through a cycle (the average cycle lasts 20 to 30 minutes).
OUR TRIAL. Overall, the Game Ready worked well and was user friendly. You can even select a pre-programmed cycle to just run with the touch of a button. The battery has convenient longevity, and the system has durable construction.
The hoses are highly specialized so that they circulate pressurized air and water through them.? Because they require water- and air-tight junctions, it’s vital that users spray all connection terminals with a special silicon spray before each session. If the terminals don’t get sprayed, a loss of pressure can occur. The kit includes a one-ounce spray bottle. If you’re on the road, you could run out of spray and be unable to use the system. However, if you spray too much silicon on the terminals and ports, the same loss of pressure can occur due to lack of a firm connection. We didn’t have a problem, but we feel it’s something users need to understand.
During the trial, one of the horses stepped on the utility wrap and punctured it. Now, we all know that nothing is “horse proof,” but, it does bring up a good point that these boots are expensive. If the horse steps on his own foot, which they sometimes do, they can render an expensive wrap useless.
When our system started to lose pressure, we called Game Ready. They were friendly, knowledgeable and responsive. They sent a representative to retrieve the unit and bring us a loaner. At the barn, the rep identified the puncture in the wrap and replaced it. We were impressed.
BOTTOM LINE. We give Game Ready two thumbs up. Horses seem to like the feel of it, and it definitely improves healing quality and healing time. The system provides a therapy no other portable system we know of has matched. It simulates elevating inflamed soft tissue through its pneumatic intermittent pressure and ice water circulation.
Cost for a Game Ready pre-packaged kit runs from $3,199 to $4,899. You can also piece together your own kit. The control unit is $2,385, and the individual wraps run from $295 to $1,075.? The company offers financing and lease/rental arrangements. We applaud the company’s lease option, since us “common folk” would never otherwise be able to afford it.Contact Game Ready at www.gamereadyequine.com, 510-868-2100.
Article by Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller, DVM.