The equines movement is used to influence and engage sensory and neuromotor systems.A partnership with "Therapist, Equine and Client".
The term hippotherapy refers to how physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful use of equine movement within a therapy session. This engages sensory, neuromotor, musculoskeletal and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. Hippotherapy exists within a medical model of treatment.
Hippotherapy (HPT) and Equine Facilitated Physiotherapy (EFPT) are adjuncts to physiotherapy. However, hippotherapy is not a qualification on its own. Healthcare professionals must have undertaken an ACPEA recognised advancing practice qualification.
Why use a horse?
Integrating hippotherapy into a physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy session can serve as a powerful tool for the facilitation of the key neuromotor systems that support function. The therapist deliberately directing the movement of the horse can offer the patient the opportunity for complex motor learning.
The average horse walks at a rate of approximately 100 steps per minute. Just 5 minutes on a walking horse represents 500 neuromotor inputs to the patient. In a typical therapy session, 15 to 25 minutes of equine movement may be incorporated by the treating therapist, which represents 1500 to 2500 neuromotor inputs to the patient.
Strength, Muscle Coordination and Sensory Processing used for walking, talking, and the use of fine motor skills for activities of daily living and general attention to tasks have all been shown to be positively impacted by equine movement.
There is increasing evidence in the clinical research literature that supports the use of hippotherapy, the benefits reported include, increased motivation and participation in treatment, positive functional outcomes and social and emotional improvements.