Physical Therapy In Motion - Movement is Therapy

Hippo is the Greek word for horse. Loosely translated it is therapy with the help of the horse. More specifically Hippotherapy refers to the movement of the horse.

The three dimensional pelvic movement of the horse at the walk is similar to the movement of the human pelvis during walking. The sensory/ motor input from the horse's pelvis sends impulses to the central nervous system of the patient.

In a patient's physical therapy treatment when 20 - 30 minutes incorporates the treatment strategy of Hippotherapy,
( the movement of the horse ), the patient receives more then 3,000 impulses to the central nervous system. These impulses are received by  all the systems in the human body. The central nervous system integrates this information and new motor pathways are formed. MRI studies conducted in the late 1990's by Dr Bluestone displayed increased activity in the cerebral cortex and the motor and vestibular cortex following a physical therapy treatment incorporating Hippotherapy.

A physical therapist may integrate this treatment strategy along with other treatment strategies into a patient's Plan of Care as per the initial evaluation to address functional outcomes. 
Patients from 2 years old and up are able to benefit when hippotherapy is part of a Plan of Care to treat developmental delays and neuromotor or musculoskeletal impairments.

Hippotherapy  as a treatment strategy is recognized by the APTA and AOTA, ASHA as within the scope of practice and considered  a physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy treatment intervention in a plan of care for patients. 

Hippotherapy is not a special type of therapy, and it is not a program nor is it therapeutic riding, adaptive riding or riding therapy. It is a treatment strategy which a specially trained PT/ OT or SLP incorporates into a patient's Plan of Care with other treatment tools and strategies within their scope of practice to address functional outcomes. To integrate this treatment strategy into a PT, OT or ST Plan of Care there is a specially trained team consisting of a specially trained PT/ OT or SLP, specially trained horse, horse handler and side helper.

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