According to the American Hippotherapy Association, "the term 'hippotherapy' refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient's integrated plan of care."
The term hippotherapy originates from the Greek word, “hippos” meaning horse (or equine), and roughly translates as "treatment with the help of the horse".
The movement produced by the horses walk simultaneously produces the following movement in the patient:
It is not possible to replicate this highly organized movement in a clinic.
To learn more about the use of hippotherapy in speech click here.
Speech Language Pathology in Motion follows the “Best Practice Guidelines” set by the American Hippotherapy Association and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. It is considered best practice for hippotherapy to be included as part of a total plan of care. It is offered in conjunction with other speech therapy treatment strategies in order to provide the best possible results for our clients. Practicing skills in multiple environments and during various activities supports generalization of skills and helps our clients make progress faster. Patients who receive speech therapy incorporating hippotherapy at Speech Language Pathology in Motion are also seen in our Hauppauge clinic and in onsite treatment areas at the Islandia location as part of their treatment plan. It is at the therapist’s discretion how often and how long hippotherapy is used, if at all, during each speech therapy session.
There is substantial body of research related to the use of animals in therapy There are over 50 peer reviewed, published articles specific to the use of hippotherapy in treatment listed on The American Hippotherapy Association bibliography. In addition, there are numerous articles related to the benefits of animal assisted therapy. According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, "people are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically-documented benefits of the human-animal bond include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being." Research related to animal assisted therapy and hippotherapy show evidence of the following:
When determining if hippotherapy is appropriate as part of a client's speech treatment, the speech language pathologist looks at the patient as a whole, taking their unique cognitive, sensory, motor and perceptual abilities into consideration.
While many children and adults benefit from speech therapy incorporating hippotherapy, it is not for everyone. The use of hippotherapy in treatment may be contraindicated for some patients for medical reasons (see our FAQ page for a list of possible precautions and contraindications). Based on information from your doctor and your case history we will determine if there are any contraindications and precautions present.
Hippotherapy is NOT a type of therapy or a service. It is a treatment strategy or tool that can be incorporated into a speech therapy, occupational therapy or physical therapy plan of care to help the therapist target specific goals.
To learn about the American Hippotherapy Association's current position on the use of Hippotherapy by OT's, PT's and SLP's in the United States, click here.
For resources related hippotherapy visit the American Hippotherapy Association resources page.
According to the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA), speech language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy professionals are the only personnel who have the prerequisite knowledge and training needed to use hippotherapy effectively as a treatment strategy.
The highest credential one can obtain in hippotherapy is to become a Board Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS).
To become a board certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist is a lengthy process requiring the successful completion of the Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist Certification Exam.
Only physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists who have been practicing in their profession for at least three years (6,000 hours) and have 100 hours of hippotherapy practice within the three years prior to application may take the exam. The following coursework is recommended:
Speech Language Pathology in Motion is proud to be an American Hippotherapy Association facility member and adheres to the AHA inc.'s Best Practice Guidelines.
Gigi's nomination video for the American Hippotherapy Association Therapy Horse of the Year Award!
During treatment incorporating Hippotherapy, the speech language pathologist is assisted by a team.
Each member of the team plays an important role.
The team is made up of a specially trained:
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