By Ashley Beekman, COTA, ATC
Have you heard the term hippotherapy and wondered if it is therapy with hippos? While that sounds fun, “hippo” is actually the Greek word for horse. The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.
“Hippotherapy” is a treatment tool, but a tool that is not used separately outside of OT, PT, or ST. In casual conversation it is referred to as therapy that incorporates equines, equine movement, and the equine environment into treatments. Here at Kinetic Edge we provide this area of therapy through our occupational therapy services, located in Pella, while partnering with Grace Therapeutic Riding, LLC.
Why the equine? The average equine walks at a rate of approximately 100 steps per minute. Just 5 minutes on a walking equine represents 500 neuro motor inputs to the patient. A typical therapy session could incorporate 2000 to 3000 neuromotor inputs to the patient.
How can therapy with equines benefit you? Under the direction of a therapist, skillfully applied equine movement can offer the patient the opportunity for complex motor learning, strength, muscle coordination, improve general attention to tasks, and sensory processing. All of which help us to walk, talk, and complete daily living tasks. As well as, increased motivation and participation in treatment and social emotional benefits. We design each treatment session with tools/strategies, in an OT intervention plan, to address the treatment needs of the client.
If you are interested in learning more about our hippotherapy services or scheduling an appointment give our Pella clinic a call at 641-621-0230.