Speech Therapy

Evolution Of Hippotherapy

This term is derived from the word ‘Hippos’ meaning horse in Greek. Literal meaning of this term is ‘the therapy aided by a horse’. It was not developed till 1960s. It emerged as an addition to physical therapy in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Germany, the whole process involved three people, a physiotherapist. a specially trained horse and a horse handler. The physiotherapist used to direct the horse handler to direct his horse to gait (the pattern in which a horse moves), cadence (recurrent, rhythmical movement) and other directions to perform. The movement in the horse was modulates as per the requirement. It was done to influence the neuromuscular changes (body activities depending on brain and muscle coordination) in the patient. Then a group of Canadians and Americans travelled to Germany to learn and standardize this therapy. In 1992, the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) was formed in the US. After that official standards and specialized educational curriculum came into existence.

The pelvis of a horse shows similar movement as in the pelvis of a human at walk. The three dimensional motion of the horse’s pelvis provides physical and sensory input for the patient. It shows a variable, repetitive and rhythmical movement. Only a licensed physical therapist, speech and language therapist and occupational therapist can practise hippotherapy for his patients. An improvement in posture, coordination, sensory activities, muscle tone and speech and language skills may be achieved by this treatment.

Hippotherapy may be beneficial in the following list of disorders:

  • In some kind of Paralysis cases
  • Down Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer
  • Autism
  • Cerebral atrophy
  • Orthopedic Disorders and Injuries
  • Rheumatism, Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
  • Psychiatric issues like phobias, stress
  • Sensory imbalances

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