The main factor for engaging babies into therapy is their abnormal and delayed psychomotor development. Early indication and application of hippotherapy intervention positively addresses immature and rapidly evolving central nervous system (CNS), having a tremendous ability of plasticity in this age. Hippotherapy treatment sessions follow the high demands on safety and hygiene for the treatment of babies with movement disorders and can be therefore applied already from 2 months of age. Successful influencing of neurological diseases through hippotherapy intervention depends on the expertise and involvement of the therapist as well as a properly trained horse. During hippotherapy treatment session, they are addressed movement control centres directly. In the interest of the child, it is necessary to do so as soon as possible. The principle is to use the high plasticity of an immature and damage brain. Application of a high quality and timely performed hippotherapy intervention allows achieving a maximum reduction of clinical symptoms.
The general definition of hippotherapy
Hippotherapy is a rehabilitation method using as a therapeutic tool specially selected and trained horses, specifically the horseback movement at walk. This movement is alternating rhythmically and cyclically repeating. It offers a multi-sensory afferent stimulation, which directly affects the motor behaviour of the client through activations of all CNS control levels. The result is a comprehensive facilitation of repair processes of an individual at both neurophysiological (eg. neuroplasticity) and psychomotor (eg. locomotion development, grip, stability) levels. Last but not least, it affects the social level (eg. socialization, communication). Upgraded variability of hippotherapy positions on the horseback (while respecting a child´s postural ability) positively affects client´s posture, gross and fine motor skills and autonomic functions (eg. respiration, digestion).
Defining hippotherapy for children with CNS disorders
Hippotherapy for children with CNS disorder is a rehabilitation method that uses as a treatment strategy equine movement at walk. The horseback becomes a balance surface producing motion impulses that are transmitted to the child, especially through the pelvis and lower extremities. In case of the applying any hippotherapy position with support on upper extremities, the transmission is as well through them. These inputs stimulate the skin, joint, muscle and equilibrium receptors. They are processed at the subcortical and cortical levels of the CNS. There provoke new motor responses along with the facilitation of synaptic sprouting of neurons – the neuroplasticity. The process of motor learning allows their consolidation to form new motor patterns. The inputs can be modified by a suitable composition of hippotherapy techniques in order to achieve therapeutic goals.