What Is Hippotherapy
According to the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. , “Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy utilizing physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy; employing a movement resembling a horse”.
The neurological function (brain and nervous system) and sensory activities (vision, hearing, sensation, smell, taste and touch) are improved. The other name for this therapy is ‘Aloka’. It focuses on developing adaptive responses in the patient by directing specific movements in the horse. Children who have problems in their coordination between brain and muscles are advised for ‘Hippotherapy’.
Hippotherapy helps in improving:
- Gross motor skills
- Speech and language abilities
- Oral motor skills
- Postural improvement
- Fine motor skills
- Sensory processing
- Behavioral and cognitive abilities
Uses in Physical, Occupational, Speech & Language Therapies:
- A trained Physical therapists utilizes the three-dimensional movement of the horse to achieve improvement of the physical movement in the patient.
- In Occupational therapy, the specially trained therapist will incorporate the horse’s movement to modulate and organize the sensory systems in the patient. It helps in effecting the vestibular (senses of spatial orientation specially about movement and a sensory system in the inner ear that refers to the orientation of our head), proprioceptive (sense about our body positioning), tactile (sensation of touch), visual (the mechanism to see), olfactory (the smelling capability) and auditory systems (hearing abilities).
- Usage of hippotherapy as a speech-language therapy is gaining speed. It aims at improving traditional speech, cognition, language and effective swallowing. The horse movement is carefully studied and effectively modulated to address speech and language deficiencies.