Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hippotherapy?
“Hippo” comes from the Latin word for horse. Hippotherapy, or therapy on horseback, is a powerful treatment tool used by licensed therapists to improve a child’s neuromotor function, flexibility, posture, and balance.
Hippotherapy differs from therapeutic riding in that the child does not control or guide the horse. The child is a passive rider. A licensed therapist, assisted by a side-walker, works with the child in various positions to stimulate neuromotor development along with many other benefits. The pelvic movement while on a horse is similar to that of the normal human gait (walk). This movement provides multi-sensory stimulation needed for some children who have difficulty processing or sorting out sensory input. By sitting passively on the horse during a therapy session, the child receives the stimulus input from the movement of the horse that they may not be able to accomplish on their own. Riding a horse during a typical one half-hour session exposes a child to more than 3,000 repetitions generated by the rhythmic movements of the horse. This is important to our clients because riding a horse requires various postural responses that are below the cognitive level. This simply means that while riding a horse, the brain constantly receives sensory information. The brain remembers this information and, over time, learns to “automatically” signal the body how to respond appropriately. This all works together to help our clients improve neuromotor function, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, posture, coordination and speech. This type of motor learning takes place even with clients who are extremely cognitively delayed and it is significant to note that the improvement made in their motor function is usually permanent.
Although the goals are physical, hippotherapy certainly has positive effects on psychological, social, behavioral and communication skills.
Who benefits from Hippotherapy?
People at almost all levels of function can benefit from the use of the horse as a treatment tool. The horse’s movement causes the core muscles to work to help the child maintain his or her balance and stability. Various levels of support are used for children with little trunk or head control. Children with sensory issues or who are on the spectrum benefit from the connection with the horse and the sensory input that is given. Some, but certainly not all, of the patients’ diagnoses include: Down Syndrome, Rhett’s, cerebral palsy, Williams’ Syndrome, Autism, sensory processing disorder, hypotonia, tethered cord, and many more.
Who may NOT be a good candidate for treatment using Hippotherapy?
- Children under the age of 2 years
- People with significant muscle contractures that would prevent safe positioning on the horse
- Single leg hip subluxation
- Significant fear/anxiety
- People with uncontrolled seizure activity
- People with Down Syndrome (or any other diagnosis) who have an unstable atlanto-axial joint
- People with history of cruelty to animals
How long is a therapy session?
Session length is determined by each client’s need. Generally, the child is seen for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
What is Aquatherapy?
The buoyancy, support, accommodating resistance and other unique properties of the aquatic environment enhance interventions for patients/clients across the age span with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and skin diseases, disorders, or conditions.
Aquatherapy interventions are designed to improve or maintain:
- aerobic capacity/endurance conditioning
- balance, coordination and agility
- body mechanics and postural stabilization
- gait and locomotion
- muscle strength, power, and endurance
What is the process to receive services from Green Hill?
Call our office at 244.8011 to begin the process. We will need to obtain and verify your insurance benefits if you will be using your health insurance to pay for therapy. We will also need to send you a packet of initial documents to fill out, which we can send either electronically or by mail. You will need to request a referral from your child’s physician to receive services from Green Hill.
Can I participate in my child’s therapy program?
We not only encourage participation, but feel that parents and caregivers are an integral part of the rehabilitation process. We welcome parents to participate through sidewalking (walking beside the horse while the child rides) and implementing intervention strategies at home. In order to sidewalk with your child, you will need to fill out the necessary forms and wear closed-toe shoes. Your child’s therapist will develop a goal-oriented treatment plan and will speak with you regularly about tips and tasks to practice throughout the week. All children respond differently to therapy and the clinic environment, so parent participation within the session is generally decided upon between the therapist and parent/caregiver.
Do you accept insurance?
Yes, we are in network with most major insurance companies. For specific information on whether we can accept your insurance, please call us at 502-244-8011.