It is important to remember that hippotherapy is a treatment strategy and not a treatment itself. If your insurance company typically covers speech-language therapy, then participation should be covered. Be sure to ask your provider for a list of exclusions before submitting for reimbursement since some may specifically list hippotherapy. We do not participate with insurance companies; therefore, you will have to request reimbursement just as is done with any other out of network provider.
The biggest difference between adaptive riding and hippotherapy is that in adaptive riding, the focus is on meeting riding goals, which improves strength, endurance, and confidence. In hippotherapy, the focus is on therapeutic goals—in our case, speech, language, and cognitive—and horses are the tool used to reach those goals. Another difference is that adaptive riding is performed by a professional therapeutic riding instructor, while hippotherapy is performed by a licensed occupation, physical, or speech therapist with the assistance of a horse handler and side walkers, as needed.
Hippotherapy provides optimal conditions for facilitating successful communication. The controlled environment and rhythmic, variable movement of the horse provides sensory input to the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, visual, olfactory, and auditory systems. The horse’s movement can be adjusted to create a higher or lower state of alertness and awareness in the client by carefully altering the horse’s movement. Through controlling the horse’s movement and combining it with clinical treatment, the client is able to accomplish their therapy goals—all in a non-clinical, fun environment.
Hippotherapy can be catered to meet speech, occupational, or physical therapy goals. At REINS, we offer speech-language services. Clients get more than speech-language benefits, though. Hippotherapy, in its very nature, affects muscle tone/ function, posture, respiration, and stimulation of the cortical pathways. It also increases motor development and balance. Many clients will experience improved body awareness, grasping skills, and core strengthening for walking and running as well.
Speech-language therapy combined with the treatment strategy of hippotherapy is an exceptional intervention for children and adults with:
Hippotherapy directly translates into treatment with the assistance of a horse. At REINS, we use hippotherapy as a strategy to bring fun and effective speech-language services to children and adults. A certified speech-language pathologist utilizes the movement of a horse to accomplish speech, language, and cognitive goals. (If you were thinking of a hippopotamus, don’t worry—you weren’t too far off. It is, after all, the “water horse”.)
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