Therapeutic Riding For Children With Cerebral Palsy and Other Special Needs
There are many different resources for babies with special needs, like hypoxic brain injuries or Cerebral Palsy. Here at Tyrone Law Firm, we do everything we can to help families find the resources they need to have a better quality of life. In fact, we have dedicated staff members who have had to navigate a path for their own children. If you are the parent of a special needs child, we hope these posts will bring new resources to you, your child and your family.
Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) often have difficulties with functional movements. Sometimes, they have too much muscle tone and are very stiff. Others may have too little tone, causing their limbs to be limp or uncontrollable. Children with CP may also suffer from orthopedic issues. Joint pain and discomfort is not uncommon.
Equestrian Therapy is extremely beneficial to children of various disabilities, including CP. The rhythmic motion, shape, and warmth of a horse can be very helpful. Riding horses targets several key weaknesses associated with CP. The movement of the horse mimics the same movements as walking, which increases blood flow and stimulates the muscles of the rider.
Therapeutic riding has several benefits, including balance, posture, tone, coordination and flexibility. These are all needed to function when off of the horse. When following the movement of the horse, riders must use their core muscles and develop good balance. Children are given a physically enjoyable experience that has similar results as standard physical therapy.
Riders use their eyes, heads and bodies to help direct the horse. When the rider leans forward, they go faster and when the rider sits up tall, the horse slows down. All of these movements will help improve motor skills and core strength. As riders become more familiar with their horse and riding, they can improve coordination skills along with leg strength.
A lot of children with special needs do not participate in group sports and often lack in physical activity. Therapeutic horseback riding provides these children with therapy and a physical outlet. Physical activity is extremely important for everyone, including those with disabilities. Horse back riding is being recognized by Special Olympics and is slowly being introduced to the games.
Therapeutic horseback riding doesn't only provide children with physical therapy. It also provides children with an emotional bond that allows them to have an uplifting experience. Horses are very compassionate, which helps with emotional, cognitive, behavioral, communicative and social malfunction. Children who are able, may be asked and encouraged to help with the grooming of their riding horse. This helps children associate the responsibility of caring for their horse.
Therapeutic riding is also known as equine-assisted activities. These therapy sessions are taught by riding instructors with the help of volunteers. Some lessons are taught in groups, which helps children make friends and helps build their self-confidence. Usually a session is around $15-$30 and most places offer sponsorships if interested families cannot afford it.
There are several places in Georgia that offer therapeutic riding. Butterfly Dreams is located in Watkinsville and can be found on the web at http://butterflydreamsfarm.org/. They offer two types of equine assisted therapy, where the horse plays a role in targeting the physical, emotional, social behavioral and cognitive goals of each rider. Haven Hills Therapeutic Riding Center is located in Fairburn and is easy to access from Atlanta. They can be found on the web at www.havenhillstrc.org. Haven Hills does not charge for services, but they do accept insurance and waive fees beyond copays and deductibles.
If our firm can help you or someone you know with Therapeutic Riding or other resources, please do not hesitate to contact The Tyrone Law Firm. Our staff is dedicated and here to help anyone in any way we can.