About the Treatment
Hippotherapy is a form of physiotherapy where the Hippotherapist uses the movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. The aim of these sessions is to use the movements of the horse for therapy which can improve:
- Core Strength
- Trunk Mobility and Symmetry
- Head Control
The warmth and movement of the horse along with the tactile feel of the coat and mane will help sensory learning and toleration of strange environments and stimuli.
Depending on the child’s disability and needs, different positions on the pony can be used. If the child has poor head and trunk control, I may decide that he or she would be better without a riding hat.
- Prone Position-reduces spines’ weight bearing,flexing the hip joints,letting the arms hang long and relaxes the shoulder girdle as well as resting the head all promote relaxation.
- Lying back-another relaxation method,weight bearing of the spine reduced,hip joints stretched,shoulder girdle and arms relaxed and weight of head laid down-normalises muscle tone.In this position spinal curves are modified as it tries to conform with the patient’s back and initiates flattening of the spinal curves. Care has to be taken in this position due to the huge vestibular stimulation.
- Sitting backwards-automatically puts patient’s pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt.Particularly important that hips are ok as the barrel of the pony is wider in this position.
- Sitting sideways-this puts a stretch on the patient’s side nearest the to the pony’s tail.
- Kneeling-further challenges balance and co-ordination.
The sessions are designed to be therapeutic but it may take 2 or 3 sessions for the child to settle and be happy with the experience. Each child is assessed for suitability prior to these sessions and to set realistic objectives.Monitoring and recording are part of the treatment and the therapy can be adjusted when necessary.
Each treatment session lasts for 30 minutes but in the early stages the patient usually is only able to tolerate 5-10 minutes and we work up to the half hour.