WHY OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY IN THE HORSE ENVIRONMENT? What is Occupational Therapy? Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. -- American Occupational Therapy Association Treatment aims to address impairments or limitations in physical, cognitive or psychological/emotional and social functioning. For Adults: Occupational Therapy offers treatment to address depression, grief, anxiety, sleep disorder and PTSD. Mental health concerns may be short term or long term and may be brought on or exacerbated by the stress brought on by Coronavirus pandemic. This stress should not be underestimated, or trivialized. It is a very real concern, and if you are struggling, you are not alone. Additionally, adults who have impairments due to Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Chronic Pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia, will benefit from an individualized treatment plan to improve health and well-being with an integrative, holistic and client-centered approach. For adults and seniors with Dementia, treatment strategies will focus on cognitive tasks to improve quality of life. For Children: Children traditionally treated with Occupational Therapy includes children with on the Autism Spectrum, ADHD, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorder, trauma and genetic syndromes, With today’s change in the school and learning environment, a new set of challenges has arisen. Occupational Therapy helps children, in collaboration with their families and teachers adapt to this new model of education. Helping children adjust to prolonged screen time, social isolation, while acknowledging individual learning styles is crucial to a child's success. Why Horses in Therapy? The history and relationship between horses and humans is fascinating and inextricably linked. Horses are wondrous, powerful and beautiful animals, and we have depended on them for centuries for transportation, building railroads, delivering mail and goods, and of course during wartime. The evidence on the benefits of horses in therapy is documented in scientific literature, and can be observed in real time. In addition to their beauty and grace, horses possess unique characteristics that are beneficial for Occupational Therapy interventions, for neurological and musculoskeletal conditions, and increasingly in the area of mental health. Horses do not make assumptions, and they do not pre-judge us. As prey animals, they are wired to survive and therefore, they must react and respond to environmental changes in an instant, and must do so within the social structure of a herd. This means they must be highly observant, sensitive, vigilant, and live moment to moment, taking cues from each other, as part of their survival instinct. They provide accurate and instant feedback to humans based on what we present to them. This feedback provides opportunities to learn and gain insight into our verbal and non verbal communication, emotions and the feelings driving our decisions, reactions and responses in our daily lives. If we are angry or aggressive, a horse will be afraid, If we are frustrated they might shut down and ignore us. When we observe and learn about their responses, we can increase our self awareness. When we increase self awareness, we can make adjustments which will in turn change the horse's response to us. This honest interaction and the positive changes resulting are empowering. This builds confidence, well-being, with habits and behaviors that promotes healthy ways in which we interact with others, and fulfill our roles and life's purpose. Physical, Neuromuscular and Sensory Systems: Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists are the professionals uniquely licensed to provide what is known as Hippotherapy. Hippotherapy (Hippo is Greek for horses) is a treatment strategy, which utilizes the rhythmic movement in a treatment session to facilitate specific goal driven activities on the horse related to an overall treatment plan. This therapy intervention is not to be confused with adaptive riding, often termed as therapeutic riding. (See terminology FAQ's) Treatment areas identified in an evaluation session, include balance, core strength, muscle tone, gross motor coordination, fine motor skill, motor planning and sensory regulation. The Occupational Therapist engages the client in tasks both on and off the horse to address these areas, including fine motor skill with the use of various brushes during grooming tasks and gross motor skill during riding tasks, such as coordinated use of upper and lower extremity to cause a horse to change direction. For sensory regulation, the movement of the horse, and position of the client is modified frequently for the purpose of delivering the desired input in order to elicit adaptive responses. Cognitive/Emotional/Psychosocial: Occupational Therapy has it's early roots in psychiatric settings , and has a rich history of providing treatment in these realms based on restoration and development of healthy emotional/behavioral/cognitive patterns to improve successful interaction with others and within our ever changing environment. In the horse environment, the special qualities of the horse, and the needs of the client are combined in a synergistic approach to address deficit areas including attention span, problem solving, sequencing, emotional regulation, and social skills. Activities performed both off and on the horse provides limitless opportunities to improve these skills which generalize to every day life. The Occupational Therapist facilitates activities that builds confidence, self worth, joy, purpose and hope. Individual OT Sessions are Fee for Service. A Superbill is provided which can be submitted to insurance company and may be reimbursable.