Equine Therapy for Kids with Special Needs
Equine therapy is a treatment method that involves harnessing a horse’s gait and rocking movements to promote physical and emotional growth. This treatment method is common among people – especially children – with special needs, and many people have resorted to it in the recent past. Children with special needs interact more with horses and have fun, in the long run, while riding their backs under close supervision.
Why equine therapy?
Equine therapy has become common in treating physical and behavioral disorders, especially in children, and it’s easy to see why. The treatment harnesses the healing ability of a horse’s movement and gait as a patient is perched on its back. As a result, it facilitates pelvis movement that purposes healing. The popularity of this treatment method is due to horses’ temperament, as people regard them as non-judgmental, unbiased, and highly intelligent.
Besides, it’s an effective way of treating children, as they interact with nature more than they would have in hospitals. This tendency of horses to remain unreactive to a patient’s mistakes or physical appearances makes them ideal, unlike humans who may sometimes be biased.
Common conditions treated by equine therapy
Equine therapy treats numerous physical and behavioral issues in patients, accruing psychological benefits in the long run. Common conditions treated by equine therapy include:
• Cerebral palsy
A baby’s brain may partly develop while in the womb. Periventricular Leukomalacia is a common cause of this condition when the brain tissues are injured or dead. Equine therapy corrects this condition by using the healing power of a horse’s gait and rocking movement.
• Autism spectrum disorder
This condition is mainly behavioral, and children with this special need usually display persistent challenges in social interactions. Besides, they also experience umpteen problems when it comes to speech and non-verbal communication. As per the CDC, 1 out of 59 children has this disorder and needs special care, and an excellent treatment method for this condition is equine therapy.
• Muscular dystrophy
This condition is mainly hereditary, and affected children usually have weakened muscles that gradually occur as they develop. It only starts with a small group of muscles and progresses further through the body. The condition can be life-threatening if it affects the heart and respiratory muscles. Although equine therapy doesn’t wholly treat it, it helps manage it to less dangerous levels to affected children.
• Brain injuries
Accidents that occur in the early stages of a baby’s development can inflict disabilities. Since the brain is the body’s central coordination system, injuries can retard their development and proper functionality. Equine therapy can therefore help manage this condition and offer reprieve to their special needs.
• Multiple sclerosis
Children with this condition suffer nerve deterioration and, in severe cases, permanent nerve damage. Communication becomes a challenge, and they often need special care. Equine therapy is, therefore, an effective way of modifying the course of the disease and managing its symptoms.
Apart from these conditions, equine therapy can help treat and manage other diseases and disorders. Typically, this treatment method usually cures most behavioral issues rather than just managing them, including anxiety and learning disorders.
Physical benefits of equine therapy
Equine therapy tags along with a wide array of physical benefits, most of which result from the effectiveness of this treatment procedure. As the results are usually physical as well as behavioral, most children with special needs experience improved:
• Motor coordination
Children with special needs suffering from cerebral palsy or brain injuries usually experience improved motor coordination during and after the therapy. The connection between their bodies and the central nervous system becomes more rigid and structured such that their muscle coordination and body movements become more developed.
• Self-esteem and self-confidence
The constant interaction between children with special needs and horses during Equine therapy inflicts a subtle sense of belief and self-confidence, uplifting their self-esteem. As these children interact with the horses, calling them by their names and commanding them for particular actions, they become more comfortable socially interact with others.
• Body balance
Children with special needs, especially cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, or muscular dystrophy, usually lack proper body balance. Equine therapy, therefore, becomes their main reprieve, as body training develops their brain coordination, consequently improving their body balance.
Equine therapy is an effective way of treating children who are usually disoriented and lack concentration. Since this condition is mainly behavioral, their time with the horses in caring for them improves their concentration and focuses their energy more.
Equine therapy is an incredible way of treating children with special needs. Indoor hospital treatments can be more stressful and nerving for them. Therefore giving them a chance to interact with nature while riding on horse’s backs and gulping lumps of fresh air makes this treatment method ideal.