Hippotherapy in Malaysia
Helping Special Needs Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Global Developmental Delay, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome and more.
Hippotherapy (“hippo” means “horse in Greek) involves using the horse as a treatment tool to accomplish therapy. It is a medical treatment option where trained professionals integrate equine movement and the natural outdoor setting into the treatment plan of a patient. It involves direct hands on activity by a qualified physiotherapist, occupational therapist or speech therapist in conjunction with a competent horse handler and a specially screened and trained therapy horse, utilizing the horse’s natural movements to engage the sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems of the patient.
Horse movement provides multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk strength and control, balance, building overall postural strength and endurance, addressing weight bearing, and motor planning. Horse movement offers well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual channels. The effects of horse movement on postural control, sensory systems, and motor planning can improve coordination and timing, grading of responses of breathing control (important for speech production), sensory integration skills and attention skills. Equine movement can be used to facilitate the neurophysiologic systems that support all of our functional daily living skills.
How Hippotherapy Works
One can say that simply being on a horse is therapeutic. Through hippotherapy, a child can experience many different types of beneficial sensory stimulation — muscles and joints receive deep pressure stimulation from bouncing and holding positions (like kneeling or standing on the horse), and the brain receives vestibular stimulation (to sense movement and balance) as the horse moves (in circles, up and down hills) and changes speed. Hippotherapy provides the sensory stimulation that helps a child organize his body for components to perform complex tasks.
Also, because a horse walks with a gait that’s similar to the human gait – variable, rhythmic, and repetitive – a child who has never walked or who has an abnormal gait can sit on a horse and experience what “normal” feels like.
Benefits Of Hippotherapy
Physically, hippotherapy can improve balance, posture, mobility and function. Hippotherapy may also improve psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions for clients of all ages.
- Relaxing tight muscles
- Building muscle strength
- Improving fine motor coordination
- Sharpening hand/eye coordination
- Improvements in balance, posture & flexibility
- Improving Communication (improving one’s ability to breathe makes it easier for a person to speak)
- Gaining self-control
- Gaining self-confidence
- Improving concentration (especially for those who have difficulty staying on task with activities)
- Improving socialization
- Improving emotional control, self-discipline
- Building teamwork, cooperation skills
Who is hippotherapy for?
Our therapists work closely with the horse professionals to manipulate various aspects of the horse’s movement to promote functional outcomes for a variety of conditions. Some conditions that can benefit from hippotherapy include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Global Developmental delay
- Down Syndrome
- Sensory Disintegration Disorders
- Rett Syndrome
- Learning or Language Disabilities
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Neurological diseases
- Genetic Disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Cerebral Vascular Accident (Stroke)
- Spina Bifida
- Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Emotional Disorders
- Visual and Hearing Impairments
However, hippotherapy is not for every case. At Green Apple our trained therapists evaluate each potential patient on an individual basis to determine the appropriateness of including hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. Best practice dictates that occupational, physio and speech therapists integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of treatment.