Down Syndrome

When a horse's movement is transferred to a patient through hippotherapy, it produces a combination of sensory, motor and neurological input that we use to treat a wide variety of diagnoses. Horses create a dynamic, three-dimensional movement that cannot be reproduced in a traditional clinic setting. The gait, or stride of the horse, coupled with the animal's warmth, provide numerous benefits.

Hippotherapy and Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. Children with Down syndrome may have difficulty with social skills as seen through impulsive behavior, poor judgment, short attention spans or slower learning.  It is also common for children with Down syndrome to have low muscle tone throughout their trunk and extremities.

Hippotherapy is an effective tool when considering therapeutic interventions for children, age 2 and older, with Down syndrome. The interaction between the patient, the horse, and the overall environment can be very effective in facilitating increased muscle tone, and improvement in flexibility, mobility and posture. Hippotherapy provides sensory stimulation to muscles and joints, impacts balance and movement sense, and provides variable tactile (touch) experiences through the horse's body heat, or when a client rubs, pats or hugs the horse.

Hippotherapy may also affect psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions for our children.  Children are taught to relate appropriately to the horse, while also improving their judgment and awareness of their body as it relates to their environment. These activities develop memory, improved communication skills, and instill self-confidence in the child.

Therapy with our horses is also very emotionally rewarding for kiddos and their families. The bond that develops between a child and a horse during hippotherapy treatment is something that a child will both cherish and be motivated by. This therapeutic activity can also increase self-confidence and encourage a child's success.

Hippotherapy is not for every client, but does result in very positive outcomes for many children with Down Syndrome. Each potential client must be evaluated on an individual basis by specially trained health professionals. If your child has Down Syndrome, and you think this may be an effective treatment or would like to learn more, please don't hesitate to call TherAplay and talk to our staff about setting up an evaluation. We look forward to meeting you!

For more information, click here to email us or call (317) 872-4166.

Within the first siz months to one year of hippotherapy, he got to the point where he could sit on the bench for 30-40 minutes by himself - independently - and watch TV.

The strength and skills he's developing create, "a whole other level of being able to interact and interface with the world instead of constantly having to lay down"

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