Sunday, January 8, 2017

When Your Child Needs . . . Nope, Not a Hippopotamus, but Hippotherapy





Not this . . . 
 
 But this!

Over the past few years I’ve talked about hippotherapy hundreds of times. Sometimes I even sound like I know what I’m talking about.  But the truth is, until Jacob started hippotherapy at McKenna Farms, I’d never heard the word.  Even though hippotherapy has been around for fifty years, many of us have no idea what it is. So let’s start there. Hippotherapy is speech, physical, or occupational therapy delivered while the patient rides a horse. The beauty of the horse as a therapy tool is that the horse’s gait mimics the movement of the human pelvis while walking.

Physicians and therapists these days are better informed, and, when warranted, recommend equine therapy as a more useful and productive method for many children who’ve spent way too many hours and days in medical facilities’ sterile settings.

When a child loves what they're doing

Behavioral and mental health as well as physical health can be improved through hippotherapy and therapeutic riding.  Anecdotally, as I talk with families of the children Jacob’s Fund sponsors, they often tell me that their child’s head-banging, crying, screaming, and other disruptive, disturbing behaviors are greatly lessened or completely eliminated when their child consistently receives weekly or bi-weekly hippotherapy sessions. 

Some disruptions can’t be avoided – when a child or a therapist is ill, for instance. But many children wait for months for approval from Medicaid or Medicare, are limited in the number of visits they’re allowed by their health insurance, or their families can’t afford the costs private or government-issued insurance doesn’t cover.  Just as Medicaid doesn’t cover the cost of exercise equipment that your doctor may recommend for therapeutic purposes, it does not cover the cost of keeping horses for use as a therapy tool.  When their families cannot afford to cover those costs, their child goes without hippotherapy.

And a special bond is created

Because we at Jacob’s Fund understand the importance of consistent hippotherapy, we want to fill those gaps for as many kids as we can.

So as we start 2017, if there is a child you know who has been prescribed hippotherapy but is prohibited by any of the reasons mentioned above: delay in coverage, limited number of visits, or a family’s inability to cover the costs of caring for the horse used in hippotherapy, please let us know. 

And if you know of a therapy center that offers hippotherapy, we’d like to hear about that, too, because unless there is a qualified location and therapist nearby, a child won’t be able to benefit from this life-changing therapy.  

Our email is jacobbeachyfund@gmail.com.  We'd love to hear from you.