Veterinary Physiotherapy students visit canine biomechanics laboratory

April 2018

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Integrated Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy students visited a canine biomechanics laboratory to find out more about German Shepherd gait characteristics and to use state-of-the-art technology that captures the 3D movement of dogs.

Dr Constanza Gomes Alavarez and Dr Alexander Humphries, at the University of Surrey, are researching German Shepherd gaits and how this influences the occurrence of hip pathologies.

Whilst learning about their research into the relationship between the conformation and gait of German Shepherd dogs and their health and welfare, the Writtle students were able to find out more about 3D video analysis – the most advanced technology in gait analysis.

The technology uses a special motion capture system that incorporates the latest infrared cameras to capture and analyse the movement of the dogs. The researchers also investigate the animals’ gait using a three metre, high-resolution foot pressure analysis mat, which the students tested out using a Black Labrador. In combination, these advanced systems can give a full picture of how animals move and stand, providing quantitative measures of their biomechanics.

Dr Roberta Ferro de Godoy, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Writtle University College, said: “Within the German Shepherd breed there are different conformations which may show different gait characteristics and this could be linked to musculoskeletal health or welfare concerns. Understanding this correlation, if it exists, could provide the evidence needed to shape breeding strategies, helping to improve the health not only of German Shepherds, but also of other dog breeds.

“This visit also gave a fascinating insight into the latest research on the hip problems affecting this breed, which is very useful for our students as they may encounter these problems when they are practising as qualified Veterinary Physiotherapists and receiving German Shepherd vet referrals.”

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