New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Bone Stimulators and Their Use in Horses and People

Team: 6

School: Annunciation Catholic School

Area of Science: Medical

Interim: Problem Definition:

Twenty-four horses die each week at racetracks across America. Instead of allowing a fracture enough time to heal, horses are given pain killers which allow the horses not to feel any pain in their leg, enabling weight bearing. This practice causes extensive damage to a horse’s bone. The Exogen Bone Stimulator Healing Machine, which is largely used within the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Community, is a faster way to heal a fracture in a horse’s body. With the development of better technology more human medicine and treatment options are becoming available in the equine veterinary science field. Computational modeling will help us to determine how ultrasonic shock waves can affect the bone growth and increase the healing rate.

Problem Solution:

The Exogen Bone Stimulator is in use today large in the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Community. OI, also known as “brittle bone disease”, is a genetic bone disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. Osteogenesis Imperfecta literally means “bone that is imperfectly made from the beginning of life.” A person is born with this disorder and is affected throughout his or her life time, as there is no known cure. The bone density of people in the OI Community is comparable to that of horses, which is why we are using the OI Community. Bone Stimulators are used in this community as it increases the healing rate of so called “non-union” and slow healing fractures of OI Patients. We believe that this same technology could be used in the race horse community to also increase their healing rates and prevent their untimely deaths by reducing the costs involved with veterinary care.

Progress to Date:

We have conducted a survey within the OI Community regarding their experiences with the Exogen Bone Stimulator and whether they saw a reportable increase in their healing rate. We are modeling the observed results in humans and then will modeling what we expect to see in horses. We intend to also model human bone growth and how they heal once fractured, which we will then compare this to horse bone growth and heal rates.

Expected Results:

After modeling and researching, we believe that we will be able to show that bone stimulators such as the Exogen, can be used on horses as an effective fracture and cost saving care option.


Team Members:

  Andreana Nourie
  Megan Thomas
  Evan Donnelly
  Moira Donnelly

Sponsoring Teacher: Mary Sagartz

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