Hippo Therapy- A Ray Of Hope For Brain Injury Patients

Hippo Therapy- A Ray Of Hope For Brain Injury Patients

Hippotherapy commonly called as Horse therapy is making news in the neurological diseases domain. Hippotherapy utilizes the movement of horse as a form of treatment. Cerebral palsy is the commonest disease which has got widespread admirers for horse therapy or Hippotherapy. Based on that note of success researchers have tried to replicate the success model to other neurological diseases. Recent researches done on brain injury patients gives substantial evidence that Hippotherapy can improve walking pattern,balance and trunk control which are major determinants for success in the rehabilitation program.




Image courtesy-  Victor habbick -freedigitalphotos.net

Why researchers are fascinated with Horse?. The answer is that Horse is the animal that closely mimics the human walking pattern or gait pattern. When a person sits on the saddle the vibrations are directly felt in the human pelvis when the horse walks, in a normal human being when he walks the pressure is transmitted from his lower extremities to the pelvis. As the person keeps his left leg forward the left side pelvis rotates toward the front direction or anteriorly and right side pelvis rotates in the direction backwards or posteriorly. Similarly when the horse walks same movements takes place for its pelvis. In Hippotherapy when the horse places its left pair limb forward the human who is riding the horse can feel his left pelvis moving forward and the right pelvis moving backwards thus mimicking his normal walking pattern. Hippotherapy simulates normal Three dimensional movement patter and trunk stability in humans.

Barbara Hein P.T is of the opinion that Hippotherapy should be carried out by a qualified physiotherapist or occupational therapist who has proper knowledge regrading the body systems and client’s problem. She says that Hippotherapy that is followed today takesthe root of  the Calssic German model which relies on the horses classic movement patterns for the client’s response. Hippotherapy commonly works out on the patients vestibular system present in the ear, touch sensation,muscle motor response and higher cognitive function.The  American Hippotherapy association suggests that horse riding simulates neuro physiological systems of the human body that helps in functional activities of daily life.

Hyunk Sunwoo and Co researchers checked whether a  horse therapy is of any use for the head injury patients. The research findings were  noted down  for eight Head injury patients. The sessions were continued twice a week for eight consecutive weeks. A single session timed around 30 minutes. The riders were guided  into different patterns like crawling kneeling and standing positions.Researchers noticed a significant improvement in balance and gait speed in  patients who underwent  Hippotherapy. Hippotherapy was found to be beneficial in improving balance ability and gait speed in patients with chronic brain disorders.

Although Hippotherapy has got beneficial effect it should be noted that it works best when combined with the traditional treatment strategies or rehabilitation techniques rather than given individually as sole treatment technique. The Research team  suggests that further studies are needed to cement the findings. As of now scientific research findings suggest that Hippotherapy is an effective combination with traditional rehabilitation program to speed up recovery in brain injury patients.


About Bibin Prasannan

A Post graduate physiotherapist specialized in orthopedics and Hand rehabilitation from manipal. His pass time hobbies includes reading books, cooking, reading Marquez. He is an avid fan of Sudha Murtys writings.
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2 Responses to Hippo Therapy- A Ray Of Hope For Brain Injury Patients

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