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Simon Collins is not a computer geek. He makes a point of that. But the researcher with the Animal Health Trust in New Market, England, did get together with some geeks — or more properly with computer software designers and engineers. Together they came up with a tool that has tremendous potential for advancing the cause of research into laminitis and other maladies of the hoof.
Collins, who holds a doctorate in animal science, was one of the presenters during the Fifth International Equine Conference On Laminitis and Diseases Of The Foot held in West Palm Beach, Fla., during November.
Collins demonstrated the use of a software program called Materialise Interactive Medical Image Control Systems (MIMICS). This software, which has been used extensively in human medicine, generates 3D models using information generated by computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans.
The computer modeling technique is called finite element (FE) analysis and Collins worked with engineers to adapt the technology to the equine foot. The resulting computer models he demonstrated were truly eye-opening.
With a few clicks of a mouse, Collins was able to display clear, bright images of the equine foot and to manipulate them to demonstrate action and function from any angle.
Collins pointed out that the computer models can not only show anatomical relationships, but also information about stress and strain responses to loads.
“In addition,” he notes, “FE provides data about the entire structure and can therefore be used to investigate the entire…