Physical Therapy Integrating Hippotherapy

What is Physical Therapy Integrating Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy used by Physical, Occupational and/or Speech Therapists to utilize the movement of the horse along with traditional therapeutic techniques to achieve the desired motor and sensory outcomes of the participant. The horse provides multidimensional movement and multisensory input in an organized fashion which can help to improve a variety of deficits.

It’s All About The Movement!

The human pelvis allows our body to move front to back, side-to-side and in rotation. A horse’s pelvis functions the same exact way! So, for someone who is unable to walk independently, riding a horse can be very beneficial. The pelvic moment experienced by the participant while riding, can mimic the human walking pattern. It is said that if you close your eyes while riding a horse, it will feel as if you are walking on air. The horses’ movement not only gives you the sensation of walking, but it also increases muscle strength, range of motion and coordination, all of which assist in improving postural stability. 

“Some Friends Have Four Legs”

In addition to the physical benefits of riding a horse, interactiong with the horse can improve confidence, trust and social skills. Horses are very good at recognizing human emotion and responding to their environment. 

At age 2, Charlie was diagnosed with unspecified hearing delay and sensory integration disorder.  He has been receiving speech therapy twice a week and OT once a week since then.  In the past four weeks that he has been  receiving hippotherapy, I have seen a dramatic improvement in his balance and running ability.  Also, his speech has improved.  The OT he has been seeing was very excited when he learned we are doing the hippotherapy to compliment his other therapies.

May 2015

P. Maher


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