Jack Foster, the three years old boy is suffering from the cerebral palsy and low muscle tone and one of the biggest challenges for the boy is to hold his head up.
Hippotherapy is one of the ways to help people with various conditions, like brain injuries, spine curvature, cerebral palsy and others to improve the muscle tone, speech and other functions. Jack has been part of the therapy for a while already and seems to enjoy it. The natural movements of the horse and totally different from the hospital environment turns treatment for a boy in the sort of fun. But researches show that except the joyful part, such therapy has a lot of real benefits. According to the recent study in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, the kids suffering from cerebral palsy have improved greatly their body control after just ten sessions of horse therapy. The therapy works the following way: according to Drl Tim Shuffler who is an instructor at Washington University in St, Louis, horse makes a hundred steps a minute, where each stride pushes the rider’s pelvis forward. After 35 minutes a rider experiences more than three thousands repetitions of the body changes from forward to back and all this time he has to work in order to stay upright.
Simple horse’s moves make the rider follow and keep up.
For the riders like Jake Forest pelvis thrust is the one who helps to make low muscles stronger in his neck and his upper body, while the low part stays relaxed. Usual therapy session includes Jack sitting both forward and backwards and sometimes the rods and cones are placed to improve his reaching abilities.
Now the researchers are testing hippotherapy for adults who are suffering from multiple sclerosis. The benefit of the horse therapy is that people actually don’t realize that they are working hard while sitting on the horse, especially kids love this way as they don’t even understand it is a sort of therapy.
There are ten horses and ponies at Horsefeathers, whom Nick Coyne uses for therapy and adaptive riding. The horses are trained specially to stop right away if they feel the rider slipping off and at the same time to ignore the sudden shakes which riders might experience.
The 22 year old boy Alex Brock has microcephaly and cerebral palsy and his mother was very surprised to hear about horseriding as a therapy. The first thoughts were – how he is going to ride it? But now the boy waits for every single session and this therapy helped a lot to straighten his trunk.
But such therapy is not for everybody, as some of the patients might have horse allergies, people with spina bifida might not be good candidates either, as well as those with Down syndrome, who first need to pass tests in the hospital to determine if they are strong enough to handle the ride. But for the rest it is another chance to experience life and actually enjoy it!