Cerebral palsy is a condition which is a result of brain damage. It occurs during and after birth. Cerebral palsy may also be caused by head injuries. A person with cerebral palsy cannot fully control motor function and can suffer from tonal problems, spasms, disturbance in gait and mobility, seizures, mental retardation, involuntary movement, impairment of hearing, sight or speech as well as abnormal sensation and perception. Muscles of people with cerebral palsy are stiff and it is hard to relax these muscles.
The rhythmic, three dimensional movements of the horses’ pelvis and footfalls help to reduce abnormal muscle tone. Children with hypertonic (spastic) CP benefit from rocking/rhythmic movement to help relax their muscles and bring their extremities into a position where they can begin to use them functionally and with intention. The warmth of the horse, coupled with this movement, helps reduce unwanted high tone as well. For riders with low tone, their central Nervous System is stimulated by this 3-d movement. Horse riding for patients with cerebral palsy is a therapeutic activity that can significantly benefit the patient. Therapeutic horse riding or equestrian therapy can help in the development of cognitive and sensory-motor of a person while enhancing a sense of responsibility. Equine Therapy can help to boost the self-confidence of patients of all ages. They begin to feel empowered, as well as supported by the notion that they are ABLE bodied while astride. The bond created between student and equine can also serve as a great motivator.
To read what Cerebral Palsy.org has to say about equine therapy, please click here