Hippotherapy is an Excellent Physical Therapy Choice

by Adriana Noton - Date: 2010-11-16 - Word Count: 591 Share This!

When the average person thinks of physical therapy, they immediately picture a trained expert and a gym that is equipped with the latest exercise equipment, all of it designed to help the patient recover from some sort of injury or illness. What the average person does not think of is stables and horses. The reality is that in some cases the use of a horse is every bit as good as a gym for healing the mind and body.

The use of horses for therapy, both physical and cognitive, is called hippotherapy. Hippotherapy has been successfully used to help people who have been diagnosed with all kinds of physical and or cognitive disabilities. A few of the conditions that can benefit from hippotherapy include; cerebral palsy, speech impediments, autism, and traumatic brain injuries.

One of the reason why hippotherapy is proving so successful is because it does more than just deal with the immediate problem, it helps heal the entire person. It is not at all unusual for a patient to experience some sort of physical, mental, and spiritual healing while they are enrolled in a hippotherapy program.

Scientifically, the reason that hippotherapy is a successful means for helping the body heal is that the movement of the horse mirrors the movement of a person in motion. Horse and humans, (and most other mammals for that matter) move three-dimensionally. When a person is mounted on the back of a horse their hips swing in the exact same way that they would if they were walking on their own feet. Since riding is a non-weight bearing exercise, the riding is a great way to help develop and condition muscles that have not been used in a long time.

In addition to being a great way to get the patients body in shape, riding is also a tactile experience. While the patient is going through the physical part of their therapy, they are also being bombarded by the smell and feel of the horse. Even better they are interacting with another living creature, a creature who is beautiful, kind, and does not make snap judgments about how the person walks or talks. The horse gives the person the freedom to be themselves.

A person is not set on a horse and turned loose when they enroll in a hippotherapy program. Before the patient is allowed anywhere near a horse, their condition has to be evaluated by their physician Once this happens the patient physical or cognitive therapist needs to work directly with the patient during their hippotherapy program. In addition to the physical therapist, there is also a trained therapeutic riding instructor who is usually responsible for the horse.

Not every horse is suitable for hippotherapy. Before they can be integrated into the program the horse is put through an extensive evaluation program. The horse must display a good personality, meet a certain level of training, and also have gaits that are suitable for the program.

Hippotherapy is not a new idea. It has been around for more than 30 years. One of the problems hippotherapy programs have run into is a lack of cooperation from the medical field. It is not unusual for doctors to question the therapeutic benefits of riding around the arena. However, recently more and more doctors have started to see changes in their patients that happened only after the patient became involved in a therapeutic riding program. Today respected organizations such as The American Physical Therapy Association, American Speech and Hearing Association, and American Occupational Therapy Association recognize hippotherapy as a valuable physical therapy tool.

A massage is an ideal way to relax and reduce stress. A massage is an ideal way to relax and reduce stress. Massage therapy supplies or oils can further tailor the experience to the recipients taste. If you need a massage table, you should check out physical therapy supplies also.n
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