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Case Study: Suki – Horse With Protective Blanket For Burns

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Suki, an 11-year-old old mare with severe burns and skin grafts

Case of Interest: We don’t only make leg braces and prosthetics.  For Suki the horse, we designed and fabricated a blanket to help her skin heal from extensive burns. 

Diagnostic History: In the middle of the night in July 2009, the barn where Suki was sleeping caught fire. Suki escaped the fire, but not before a burning piece of the roof fell onto her back. Suki had second- and third-degree burns covering 70% of her body and was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

The burn wounds slowly began to slough off revealing pink, new skin beneath. However, a patch of particularly burned skin on her back was having difficulty healing. As the wound would begin to heal, Suki would roll onto her back to relieve the itching. This would open the wound again and healing would be delayed.

To help promote healing, a skin graft was eventually decided upon. The skin graft used small skin plugs that were taken from the healthy left side of Suki’s neck. Over two dozen small plugs were then implanted into the wound on her back.

Over the next weeks and months, the area would start to heal and she would again scratch her back by rolling. Each time she rolled she would open the graft and the healing would be further delayed. Eventually, veterinarian Dr. Lori Ferdock recommended contacting our office for suggestions.

In June 2011, a practitioner from My Pet’s Brace met with Suki, Suki’s owner, and Suki’s veterinarian several times for evaluation and fitting appointments. The area on her back with the skin graft was about 12 inches by 18 inches. A breathable light-weight material was fashioned into a blanket with a molded insert that would bridge the burnt area and protect the skin, even if Suki rolled on the ground. 

First, a material that has a hexagonal honeycomb-like shape was molded and conformed to the wound area. The material would also allow the area to breathe and encourage air movement around the skin graft. A pocket in the lightweight fabric allowed the insert to be removed for cleaning. Straps were added to keep the blanket in place while Suki moved.

Follow-Ups: Suki was seen multiple times since the protective blanket was created. Small modifications were made to ensure it did not shift. She has since healed perfectly and is back to being ridden and living a very full life. She has been an inspiration to many burn victims, both human and animal, and has touched the lives of so many people in many walks of life.

To learn more about her amazing story and recovery visit: http://sukithehorseburnsurvivor.blogspot.com/2012/01/healing-difficulties-again-june-2011.html.

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