Hippotherapy therapeutic horseback riding to improve the physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youths with special health care needs.
Hippotherapy is considered as worldwide techniques used in rehabilitation of children with neurological disorders as it improved gait pattern, balance, postural control, strengthen, range of motion and gross and fine motor skills development.
Hippotherapy is the use of the rhythmic movement of the horse to increase sensory processing and improve posture, balance, and mobility in people with movement dysfunctions.
Hippotherapy is a unique form of alternative therapy which uses horseback riding as its means of treatment.
Horseback riding incorporates physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
” Hippotherapy: May induce improved gross motor function and muscle symmetry (Lechner et al., 2003; McGibbon et al., 1998; McGibbon & Grant 2003)”
The riding lessons focus on: strengthening and toning muscles; improving balance and coordination, building self-esteem and confidence; boosting social, cognitive, and language skills; and increasing community participation.
Ultimately, the goal of hippotherapy is to enhance quality of life for the participants.
Riders are able to form special bonds and learn relationship skills through interaction with the instructors, volunteers, and horses.
Under the guidance of a therapist, hippotherapy sessions may last 30 minutes to 1 hour.
The therapist directs the horse and evaluates the child’s responses. Treatment is adjusted accordingly, and all programming for the riders is tailored to meet their individual needs.
” The term derives from the Greek word “hippo” meaning horse.”
The transfer of movement from the horse to the client is designed primarily to achieve physical goals but may also affect psychological, cognitive, behavioural, and communication outcomes.
Clients benefiting from hippotherapy include adults and children with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, orthopaedic problems, posttraumatic spasticity, strokes, scoliosis, genetic syndromes, and developmental delays, among others.
Hippotherapy uses the unique movement of a horse to achieve a child’s health care goals.
Gonzalez and Hudson (2003) report that a child receives a therapeutic benefit simply by sitting on the horse.
As the child works to maintain balance, the child receives numerous additional therapeutic benefits—physical, developmental and social—yet because the activity is fun, it hardly seems like work at all!
The sense of freedom, trust, and pleasure the child experiences while riding seem impossible to duplicate with other treatment modalities.
The success of overcoming any fear or anxiety associated with riding is also rewarding.
In addition, the social benefits of a group activity are an additional plus. McGibbon, Andrade, Widener and Cintas (1998) studied the use of hippotherapy in children with cerebral palsy.
The study suggests that the use of hippotherapy may improve energy expenditure during walking and gross motor function in these children (McGibbon et al., 1998).
Another study by McGibbon and Grant (2003) notes improved muscle symmetry in children with cerebral palsy following therapy on horseback.
Other benefits of hippotherapy include the eduction of spasticity in the lower extremities among patients with spinal cord injuries (Lechner, Feldhaus, Gudmundsen, Hegemann, Michel, Zach, & Knecht, 2003).
Mental health professionals may work with equine professionals using hippotherapy to treat individuals with mental illness or other emotional issues.
“An increasing number of universities and colleges in the United States are offering coursework related to equine-assisted activities or therapies. We conducted a scoping review to determine the prevalence of such coursework at higher education institutions with information on geographic location, number of courses and their focus, department through which coursework was delivered, and level of study (undergraduate or graduate). We identified 39 higher education institutions in 29 states that provided coursework in the following areas: therapeutic riding/horsemanship (n = 71, 64.5%), equine-assisted mental health (n = 23, 20.9%), equine-assisted learning (n = 7, 6.4%), and hippotherapy (n = 1, 0.9%). Survey or overview courses (n = 8, 7.3%) were also identified.
A total of 110 courses that met inclusion criteria were offered in the 2016-2017 academic year, both at undergraduate (n = 92) and graduate levels (n = 17), with just over half of institutions delivering coursework through social science or liberal arts departments (n = 20, 51.3%) and the rest through animal science departments (n = 19, 48.7%). Several challenges emerged based on the review process related to use of terminology, understanding of professional scope and the lack of educational standards for equine-assisted fields. Our suggestions for future research include examination of curriculum content and instructor qualifications to increase understanding of the role university and college coursework has in equine-assisted practice.”
“Krejci, Eva. (2016). The effects of hippotherapy on attention and memory skills of children with CP, from a long-term perspective. 53. 55-61. Basis: Hippotherapy (HT) is used for cerebral palsy (CP) affected children as a rehabilitation method affecting motor, psychic and social functions in a complex way. This study continues previous pilot study, which proved effects of HT on attention and memory of research group comprised of 20 CP affected children and teenagers. The aim of research was to reevaluate the outcomes of previous study from prolonged period point of view. Group: Group contained 8 children (7 females, 1 male; average age during first HT treatment start was 11 years 8 months), who continued in previously started HT. Every child had been diagnosed with CP. Methods: Subjects were examined with psychodiagnostic tests before commencement and after end of HT intervention.
Same approach was taken after interval of one and two years. Attention and memory (short and long-term) were evaluated using “Numeric square” and “Memory learning test”, respectively. Results: Every examined child have shown improvement of attention in absolute values after conclusion of HT; some of them have though, with increasing age, shown greater difference in comparison with unaffected population, after conversion of values to sten scores. Short-term memory evaluations have confirmed previous studies conclusions; six children have improved their amount of words memorized by 6 in average. In long-term memory evaluation, results were improved by 5 words in average after HT conclusion. Conclusion: Results confirm conclusions of previous study and show positive effects of HT on attention and memory, (blues show that the effects are not permanent, as the performance drops in intervals between HT treatments. Performance drops are however swiftly equalized after HT recommencement and further improved.”