Kinematic discrimination of ataxia in horses is facilitated by blindfolding

Olsen, E.; Fouché, Nathalie Elisa; Jordan, H.; Pfau, T.; Piercy, R. J. (2018). Kinematic discrimination of ataxia in horses is facilitated by blindfolding. Equine veterinary journal, 50(2), pp. 166-171. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/evj.12737

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BACKGROUND: Agreement among experienced clinicians is poor when assessing the presence and severity of ataxia, especially when signs are mild. Consequently, objective gait measurements might be beneficial for assessment of horses with neurological diseases. OBJECTIVES: To assess diagnostic criteria using motion capture to measure variability in spatial gait-characteristics and swing duration derived from ataxic and non-ataxic horses, and to assess if variability increases with blindfolding. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional. METHODS: A total of 21 horses underwent measurements in a gait laboratory and live neurological grading by multiple raters. In the gait laboratory, the horses were made to walk across a runway surrounded by a 12-camera motion capture system with a sample frequency of 240 Hz. They were made to walk normally and with a blindfold in at least three trials each. Displacements of reflective markers on head, fetlock, hoof, fourth lumbar vertebra, tuber coxae and sacrum derived from three to four consecutive strides were processed and descriptive statistics, receiver operator characteristics (ROC) to determine the diagnostic sensitivity, specificity and area under the curve (AUC), and correlation between median ataxia grade and gait parameters were determined. RESULTS: For horses with a median ataxia grade ≥2, coefficient of variation for the location of maximum vertical displacement of pelvic and thoracic distal limbs generated good diagnostic yield. The hoofs of the thoracic limbs yielded an AUC of 0.81 with 64% sensitivity and 90% specificity. Blindfolding exacerbated the variation for ataxic horses compared to non-ataxic horses with the hoof marker having an AUC of 0.89 with 82% sensitivity and 90% specificity. MAIN LIMITATIONS: The low number of consecutive strides per horse obtained with motion capture could decrease diagnostic utility. CONCLUSIONS: Motion capture can objectively aid the assessment of horses with ataxia. Furthermore, blindfolding increases variation in distal pelvic limb kinematics making it a useful clinical tool.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > Equine Clinic
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)

UniBE Contributor:

Fouché, Nathalie Elisa


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Andrea Gassmann-Suter

Date Deposited:

16 Apr 2018 10:50

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 00:41

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PubMed ID:





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