2021 AHA, Inc. Virtual Conference Videos -- Breakout Sessions 10-13 Bundle

Breakout #10 - Preliminary Efficacy of Occupational Therapy in an Equine Environment for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Caitlin Peters, Ph.D., OTR/L

The presentation will present information on the research supporting occupational therapy incorporating hippotherapy for youth with ASD, while promising, remains in early stages of scientific development marked by small pilot studies and a lack of standardized protocols (McDaniel-Peters & Wood, 2017). To address the need for more rigorous research, our team has followed Smith et al’s (2007) phased approach to developing and evaluating occupational therapy in an equine environment for youth with ASD (OTee HORSPLAY). A Phase 1 study demonstrated that OTee HORSPLAY improved participants’ goal performance and social functioning and decreased some participants’ irritability and hyperactivity (Peters et al., 2020). In Phase 2, we created an intervention manual to standardize procedures. The current study aimed to assess the preliminary efficacy of the newly manualized OTee HORSPLAY intervention for youth with ASD.


Breakout #11 - Mechanical Horseback Machines

Lee Ruonavaara PT, DPT

Since bringing hippotherapy to the US; therapists have had to fight and defend the strategy of utilizing hippotherapy in therapy.  Great efforts have been focused on research and reimbursement. During that struggle, we have developed a bias towards the use of mechanical horses. A mechanical horse does NOT replace the horse.  And yet, when used as a supplemental tool, a mechanical horse CAN greatly expand our clinics. Not only does the mechanical horse enhance goal attainment by our patients, but it diminishes the negative impacts that our horses often endure. By exploring the successful use of a mechanical horses and how they can be used appropriately in a supplemental role, we will only expand the knowledge of our field. We should be expert in all nuances, this is only one more aspect.

Our clinic’s mechanical horse journey started with an unwanted donation of an IGallop. The IGallop did not feel like a horse at all and we really did not want it. And yet, within 7 years, we now own 3 Miracolt mechanical horses. We utilize them every day to supplement our work.  

We want to share this journey and encourage other clinics to embrace the use of mechanical horses in their clinics. Based on our experience; mechanical horses are not as beneficial as actual horse movement. The machines do not develop relationships, do not have unique individual steps for more unique functional balance reactions, and do not give the visual/vestibular responses that occur when a body moves horizontally through space. However, they can be extremely beneficial in enhancing therapy sessions.  The mechanical horse can be used in a wide range of ways, specifically on evaluation and during therapy session.


Breakout #12 - Dispelling Myths #2: Use of Equine Movement is Predominately Used for Neurologic Conditions- What about Scoliosis?

Susie Rehr, PT ,HPCS and Jane Burrows, PT, HPCS

Scoliosis occurs for multiple reasons however; you can generally divide causality into two categories: neurological and orthopedic.  You can also divide the types of “typical interventions” into static or dynamic. Further, we can look at the types of muscle contractions used to help realign the skeleton using dynamic motor performance.  Of critical importance, however, is carryover and long-term correction- for this we often look at motor learning principles, an emphasis on eccentric control and the integration of purposefully manipulated equine movement.

This presentation is designed to make a clinical impact on the attendee and discusses the clinical presentation of scoliosis.  In order to effectively treat scoliosis using equine movement a deep understanding of equine movement, eccentric control, and the implications of physics on the body is necessary.  A case study will enhance the understanding and clinical impact of using this tool.

Scoliosis is not a single plane event.  It is not due to a single causative factor.  Therefore, as practitioners we cannot afford to look at scoliosis through a limited framework.  The use of hippotherapy is an ideal therapeutic intervention in the treatment of primary and secondary scoliosis: it is multiplanar, it is dynamic, it incorporates visual flow, it emphasizes eccentric control against deforming forces especially in rotation, and it creates new motor patterns rapidly due to the number of repetitions available.


Breakout #13 - Prevention, Burnout, & Safety for Therapists who Partner with Horses -Strategies and Skills for Stress Management

 Rebecca Cook

A research survey of therapists who utilized hippotherapy in their therapy treatments was offered annually for ten consecutive years independent of but in collaboration with the American Hippotherapy Association Inc. on the topic of safety, risk and risk management. A surprising trend emerged, while injury and incidents in the barn were statistically low, therapists were reporting the majority of injuries were to themselves or staff assisting with therapy sessions. Survey comments also suggested that while some injuries were related to equine behavior, many were related to the ongoing wear and tear therapists experienced over time offering treatment in the hippotherapy milieu. This talk discusses several possible contributing factors to survey statistics including stress and ethical considerations related to compromising your own self, your horse, and your therapy business as well as offer personal strategies and practical suggestions to alleviate this risk and set therapists up for longevity and success in their therapy practices.

Course Details

2021 AHA, Inc. Virtual Conference Videos -- Breakout Sessions 10-13 Bundle
Breakout Session #10
Breakout Session #11
Breakout Session #12
Breakout Session #13
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