Allied Therapy is proud to partner with Beyond Boundaries to offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions that incorporate equine movement.
Hippotherapy is defined by the American Hippotherapy Association as, “the way that 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.” Clinical research has found hippotherapy to be an effective treatment tool for individuals with a variety of diagnoses and disabilities. The horse’s three-dimensional movement provides sensory stimulation to muscles and joints (called proprioception), impacts the balance and movement sense detected by sensory receptors in the inner ear (called the vestibular system), and provides varied tactile (touch) experiences when the client rubs the horse, feels the heat from the horse’s body, and feels the effects of the natural environment (sun/wind). The therapist can address communication goals by asking the rider to follow simple or multi-step directions. The client is encouraged to communicate directions to the horse verbally, if possible, or nonverbally through signs, such as “go” or “stop”. The client’s trunk musculature is challenged each time the horse steps, stops, or changes speed. The rhythm of the horse's stride, coupled with the pelvic movement exactly mimics the stride length and pelvic mobility of a walking human, leading to improved gait mechanics and balance. Hippotherapy has the potential to positively impact multiple body systems and lead to changes that lead to improved function, independence, participation and quality of life.