Trauma, Concussion or Other Brain Injuries in Horses

PetMD Editorial
Aug 08, 2008
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Traumatic Brain Injury in Horses

Brain trauma, concussions, and other brain injuries are relatively uncommon among horses and usually are a result of severe trauma such as a fall, kick to the head, or accident in a trailer.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on how extensive the trauma to the brain, including:

  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Unsteadiness on foot
  • Dullness in the eyes
  • Blood in the nose
  • Blood in the ears
  • Slowness
  • Convulsions
  • Circling
  • Blindness
  • Sudden death

Causes

Brain trauma is due to a head injury, but may happen in variety of ways, among them:

  • Running into a post
  • Car accidents
  • Trailer accidents
  • Rearing and hitting an object (e.g., beam, tree, rails, etc.)
  • Sporting accidents (e.g., falls, bumps, etc.)
  • Kick to the head

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of brain trauma varies from case to case and depends on the clinical signs the horse is exhibiting. In many instances, diagnosis only occurs when the horse is brought to the veterinarian after an accident. Many other times it may take a symptom or a host of symptoms for the brain trauma to be noticed. The sooner the veterinarian examines a horse after the trauma, the better.

Treatment

Treatment is not always necessary for brain trauma; it sometimes only takes rest for the brain trauma to heal. Other times, certain steroids or diuretics may be administered to encourage the healing of bruises on the brain or to alleviate the pressure that results from swelling.

Antibiotics may be used to help curb infections in certain cases, as well.

Living and Management

For horses with mild to medium brain injuries that tend to wander or get confused easily, confinement to smaller, darker spaces and isolation from other horses may be a good idea. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe certain medication or treatment options to ease the symptoms or the brain injury. The brain is an important part of the body; it controls motions, emotions, and more, and without proper healing your horse may not return back to normal.

Prevention

Care is only way to prevent brain trauma. Most brain traumas are the result of an accident. And while accidents cannot be completely avoided, you can take steps to reduce risks. Taking care to get extraneous objects and posts out of your horse’s living area and not confining too many animals to one place is the best way to prevent brain injuries from occurring.

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