"Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Parker had his first hippotherapy appointment last week and it was wonderful!  A little bit about hippotherapy for those of you that would like to know more:

First and foremost, there are no hippos involved.  :)  A friend of mine said I should not tell Parker we are going to hippotherapy because he will be very confused when he sees a horse!  I found out that "hippos" is Greek for horse, in case any of you are wondering where it came from.

Anyway, hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes the multidimensional movement of a horse.  It uses the movement of the horse to influence the client's posture, balance, function and sensory processing.  The horse's pelvis moves in the same three ways as a human pelvis does creating a movement pattern similar to human walking.  This type of movement cannot be replicated in the typical clinical setting.  For some riders it's the first time that they have been able to feel what walking is like. 

Hippotherapy is beneficial for a wide variety of diagnoses and impairments including:
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Delay
  • Sensory Integration Dysfunction
  • Language Disabilities
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Down Syndrome
  • Spina Bifida
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
I had first heard about hippotherapy when Parker was first diagnosed.  A friend told us about it, but when we did our research we found out that a client needs to be 2-years-old to do the therapy.   I couldn't wait until that day that we could get Parker in there!  I have grown up around horses and was so excited to try out this type of therapy.  And it didn't let me down.

After doing a 30 minute evaluation of Parker inside the office, the physical therapist (Laurie) took us out to the barn.  It was an  extremely windy day so all the horses were  in their stalls and they were restless.  The wind was so loud and the horses were feeling cooped up.  I could feel the energy in the air.  So I was a little worried.  Would Parker's horse be a little skittish?  Well, that was cleared up pretty quickly. 

Laurie took us straight to Blessy's stall and introduced Parker to him.  I put Parker's hand on his soft muzzle and Blessy just stood very still and welcomed Parker with his big liquid brown eyes.  Parker smiled.  I knew Blessy would be a good fit.  We went into the arena and Parker was put on Blessy's back.  There wasn't a saddle.  They just used a pad so that Parker could feel the horse's movements.  Laurie was on one side of Parker, another woman was on the other side and there was a third leading the horse.   

I wasn't allowed in the arena and I thought surely Parker would start crying when they led him away from me.  Nope.  Parker did not cry, but I did.  Ok, I didn't start sobbing like I thought Parker would.  But tears came to my eyes as I saw my little man riding Blessy.  I don't know why it got me.  Maybe because for the first time in his life he could feel what walking is.  Maybe it was that I could see the smile on his face.  Maybe it was because I could see him working so hard to say sitting up and holding his head up.  (which isn't easy with a riding helmet)  Either way, I dried my eyes before he came back around to me.  I waved and cheered him on.  He was focusing so hard he barely noticed.  I took some pictures on my cheap little camera but they didn't turn out very good.

After the session, Parker got to take Blessy back to the grooming station and feed him treats.  I love this part because they really want the kids to know that they need to take care of "their" horse and thank them.  Parker reached out for Blessy's face and I helped place his hand on his cheek.  Then Blessy gave love nibbles to Parker's hand (just lipped him).    Next time we are going to bring some treats for Blessy.  I know the usual snacks for horses are carrots and apples.  But the therapist told me that horses also love peppermint!  Anyone know of any other special treats we can bring our little horse?

If anyone out there is looking for a new therapy, I would strongly recommend hippotherapy.  Not only will it be amazing for Parker physically, I think emotionally it will be the best type of therapy for  him (along with ABM).   He loved it!  He had a smile or a very focused face the whole time.  There was no crying or frustration that often comes with regular physical therapy.  We have only gone once, but I am sold.  I will keep updating you and letting you know the progress he is making.

Another good sidenote, they can bill insurance because it is a trained physical therapist that you are working with.  It is considered a therapy session.  We are not going that route because we are only allowed 30 therapy visits per year, and that includes speech, physical, and occupational therapy!  Ridiculous, I know!  So we are going to pay out-of-pocket for the hippotherapy because it is more affordable than our other types of therapy.  Our occupational therapy appointments at one facitlity (that we don't go to anymore) cost $408 (for an hour).  Hipportherapy is $35/15 minutes.  So we are just going to do 30 minute sessions (especially since Parker is so young).  $70/week is still expensive, but we are going to find a way to make it work. 

I will let you know how it goes.  Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for stopping by and reading. I love your comments!