Strides has been a community partner with Kadlec Therapy Services since 2014 to offer hippotherapy the Tri-Cities & surrounding region. Hippotherapy is led by Keely Bowen, a doctor of physical therapy and hippotherapy clinical specialist. Meagan Goodnight and Stacy Ferguson complete the treating therapists team. Meagan has a masters in physical therapy and practiced hippotherapy treatments in Scotland prior to treating her patients at Strides. Stacy is a physical therapy assistant.
Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes.
In hippotherapy (HPOT, from the Greek "hippo" meaning "horse") the therapist uses the movement of the horse to address the patient’s challenges, such as deficits in balance, strength, endurance, coordination, communication, and attention. This therapy does not teach riding skills; rather the goals are geared towards independence with activities of daily living and increased participation in family, school and community life.
How does the horse’s movement help?
The movement of the horse creates a multi-sensory experience that is controlled by a skilled horse handler under the direction of the therapist. The horse's stride provides multi-dimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk control, balance, postural strength, weight bearing, and motor planning. It offers well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and visual channels. When a client is sitting on the horse, the horse’s walking gait facilitates movement responses remarkably similar to the human gait. This movement cannot be duplicated in traditional clinical settings. The effects of equine movement on postural control, sensory systems, and motor planning can be used to improve coordination, timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration, and attention. Equine movement is used to facilitate body systems that support our daily living skills.
Improvements in all of these areas can result in increased independence with activities such as walking, dressing, communicating and playing.
How do the different therapy disciplines use hippotherapy?
Physical Therapy: The physical therapist can overlay a variety of motor tasks on the horse’s movement to address the motor needs of each patient and to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting, standing, and walking.
Occupational Therapy: The occupational therapist is able to combine the effects of the equine movement with other standard intervention strategies to work on fine motor control, sensory integration, feeding skills, play skills, attention and self-regulation skills, and functional daily living skills in a progressively challenging manner.
Speech Therapy: The speech-language pathologist utilizes the movement of the horse to facilitate improved respiratory function, breath control, and oral-motor function. These effects are combined with standard speech and language intervention techniques to target articulation, fluency, and auditory processing. Using the natural environment, the therapist also addresses expressive language, receptive language, and social pragmatics.
How do I sign up for hippotherapy?
At this time, physical therapy is the only service at Strides that offers hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. We recommend that you ask your primary care physician for a (PT, SLP, or OT) "evaluation and treatment" prescription to send to Kadlec therapy services. When you call to make your evaluation please ask for a therapist that is qualified to assess you or your loved one for hippotherapy. Please understand, however that not everybody is appropriate to partake in hippotherapy for safety reasons; please review the list of precautions and contraindications in the above link.