Physical Therapy – Hippotherapy
Healing Reins partners with Georgia Merrifield, PT, MS, PCS and Laurie Schick, MPT, HPCS to provide Physical Therapy Utilizing Equine Movement (Hippotherapy).
The word Hippotherapy translates to "treatment with the help of a horse". Hippotherapy is a powerful treatment strategy that can be utilized by a licensed and specially trained physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech language pathologist.
Therapists use the movement of a horse as a strategic intervention to address a variety of dysfunctions. During a treatment session the movement of the horse, position of the client, equipment and types of activities used are monitored, analyzed and modified by the therapist to promote the best functional outcomes. Equine movement may be one of many treatment strategies used by the treating therapist.
In a 30-minute session of equine movement the client will receive over 3000 repetitions of graded, rhythmic movement that helps to facilitate postural control and integration of all systems in the body.
WHY USE A HORSE?
The horse provides a unique multidimensional movement in the client that is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The horse’s pelvis moves in the same three ways as a human pelvis thus creating a movement pattern similar to human ambulation. This unique movement cannot be replicated in the usual clinical setting or on a manufactured piece of equipment.
The horse also provides a dynamic base of support making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk control, balance and coordination. The horse’s movement creates a multisensory experience that can be graded to enhance or decrease the riders vestibular, tactile, and proprioceptive systems. When you consider changes in speed and gaits, each horse’s distinct movement, and placing the client in different developmental positions on the horse, the physical inputs are unique and extraordinary.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF EQUINE MOVEMENT?
- core trunk strength
- joint mobility
- muscle tone
- cognitive skills
- sensory integration
- postural control
MEDICAL CONDITIONS AND DIAGNOSES THAT CAN BENEFIT
FROM EQUINE MOVEMENT:
- cerebral palsy
- cerebral vascular accident
- functional spinal curvatures
- down syndrome
- developmental delays
- sensory integration disorders
- traumatic brain injuries
- multiple sclerosis
- genetic disorders
CLINICAL PROBLEMS THAT CAN BE EFFECTIVELY TREATED BY UTILIZING EQUINE MOVEMENT:
- abnormal muscle tone
- abnormal reflexes
- flexible postural asymmetries
- impaired postural control
- impaired balance responses
- impaired coordination
- decreased mobility
*Clients as young as 2 years of age are eligible for the Hippotherapy program.
**Hippotherapy is a cash-pay, fee for service program. Clients will be give a medical receipt for services which contains all the information needed to submit to insurance carriers for reimbursement. Healing Reins does not do direct billing.
"Naomi has gained strength in so many ways. Her walking has improved so much since beginning Hippotherapy. She loves the horses and it is so much easier for her to stretch her body and work with the therapist while she's on 'Ciara.' Naomi uses her voice and makes lots more sounds from the back of the horse. Healing Reins has wonderful staff and great people volunteering to help my daughter. Naomi loves being out here and really responds well to the farm setting." - Naomi's mom
"I have been using Hippotherapy as an adjunct to my physical therapy treatments for almost 20 years now and have been a member of the American Hippotherapy Association since its inception . Hippotherapy is a fun and effective treatment tool as the movement of the horse can be utilized to influence many systems of the body at once. The environment of the barn and its surroundings is so much more stimulating to a child or an adult that is dealing with a chronic disability and who has to receive multiple therapies usually in a clinical setting. It is emotionally invigorating for me to see a client’s face light up as soon as they enter the barn and see “their” horse waiting for them." - Georgia Merrifield, PT, MS, HPCS
"I just recently moved to Bend from Portland, Oregon and am extremely excited to be partnering with Healing Reins to expand their physical therapy services. Coming from another Premiere PATH center in Beaverton, Oregon, I was very impressed with Healing Reins facility, friendly and knowledgeable staff, therapy horses and overall professional environment. I have been using Hippotherapy as a physical therapy treatment strategy for over 12 years and am the only certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS) in the state of Oregon. I am passionate about Hippotherapy and the incredible effect it has on improving core strength, balance, sensory integration, and overall level of function in kids and adults with disabilities. Equine movement is a powerful treatment tool, not only for its unique three-dimensional movement, but also for the amazing horse-human connection that is established. There is nothing else like it.” Laurie Schick, MPT, HPCS