January 2016 Newsletter

CP News For You!

Last summer, my daughter and I drove to Columbus, Ohio to visit a cousin of mine.  Yes, we drove!  It took all day but we drove through parts of this country that I had never seen – and we caught some spectacular views.  Mountains, rivers and picturesque towns – it was really an adventure, and we enjoyed the road trip. 
My cousin is a horse enthusiast.  So, when Dina and I spent time with him, he naturally took us to visit his “home-away from home” and his BBF, Rohan, a race horse .   Rohan is HUGE and my what legs he has!  Rohan is also fairly young and bucked when my cousin rode him as he is still in training.  When my cousin asked if Dina would like to ride Rohan, I was leery – I couldn’t imagine my daughter riding this HUGE but beautiful horse, especially if he was going to buck and throw her off.  BUT the most miraculous thing happened!  When my daughter got on top of Rohan, his head went down and he became the most submissive horse I have ever seen.  He strutted around slowly and calmly as if he knew that Dina needed a gentle ride – it was AMAZING.
This whole episode got me thinking about horseback riding as therapy for children with CP.  Upon doing some research, I found out that indeed hippotherpay is an effective therapy for children with CP. 
I found this information on My Child at Cerebral Palsy.org:  Hippotherapy can help children with cerebral palsy on several fronts. Interacting with the horse can lift a child’s spirits emotionally and psychologically while also providing valuable physical exercise as the child learns how to ride the horse properly. A horse’s gait has three-dimensional movement—equine movement–similar to a human that helps a child plan physical responses to the horse’s movement. Horseback riding requires subtle adjustments and positioning to maintain proper balance and posture. 
Physical benefits can include:

  • Improved gross motor skills
  • Trunk core strength
  • Control of extremities
  • Improved postural symmetry
  • Reduced abnormal muscle tone
  • Respiratory control

Cognitive benefits can include:

  • Improved attention
  • Visual coordination
  • Sensory input
  • Tactile response
  • Improved timing and grading of responses
  • Improved ability to express thoughts, needs

Psychological benefits can include:

  • Enjoyable interactions with the animal
  • Opportunities for social interaction
  • Improved self-esteem

More information can be found by doing a goggle search on “horseback riding and CP”.  Horseback riding is not a cheap activity but I did find a class that seems well priced and yes, it can be found in our backyard at Frying Pan Park.  Here is a link to the page so you can check out all sorts of information on the Park, and the classes offered.   Of course, you should check with your child’s physician on whether this type of therapy is recommended for your child.
Happy Riding!