Horses can help healing

October 13, 2008 10:06:11 AM PDT
Hippotherapy is a new type of physical therapy for kids with disabilities. The word "hippotherapy" is derived from a Greek word meaning "horse." It's essentially therapy on horseback. WHO CAN BENEFIT? According to the J. F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., children with as many as 50 distinct disabilities could benefit from hippotherapy. Some of the most common disabilities that are treated with the therapy include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head Trauma
  • Stroke
  • HOW DOES IT WORK? Because a horse's pelvis moves identically to a human's pelvis, hippotherapy stimulates the human walk better than any other piece of rehabilitation equipment. In this form of treatment, the horse's body moves in the same motions as humans walk. Riders are positioned sideways to work trunk muscles and backwards to improve balance. Standing on the horse builds coordination. The goals are to improve posture, balance, mobility and function, but the therapy may also have a positive effect on psychological, cognitive and behavioral functions.

    WHO PERFORMS THE THERAPY? Specially-trained physical and occupational therapists direct the movement of the horse, analyze the child's responses, and adjust the treatment accordingly.

    AMAZING RESULTS: Many children experience exceptional results after hippotherapy. Adam Wolf is a 9-year-old who wasn't able to walk before the therapy. In fact, doctors said he might never even be able to sit up after he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. After several months of therapeutic horseback riding, Adam is able to walk short distances on his own.

    WHERE CAN IT GET IT? There are more than 600 therapeutic riding centers in the United States. The cost for a session runs about $90. However, traditional clinical physical therapy can cost up to $175 per session. The best way to find a riding center in your area is to contact the North American Riding for Handicapped Association at http://www.narha.org.

    For More Information, Contact:

    Dana Green
    J. F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center
    San Juan Capistrano, CA
    (949) 240-8441 ext. 109
    (800) 369-RIDE (nationwide)
    http://www.sheacenter.org
    http://www.narha.org


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