Home Health Care Horsing Around

Horsing Around

by Shelley D. Hutchins
written by
Portrait of a little girl riding horse outdoors. Learning how to ride and instructor is carefully watching.

Beth Macauley gets to play with horses at work. The associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, uses hippotherapy in treatment with her clients. A recent article in the Grand Rapids Gazette shares insights from Macauley on how hippotherapy can help with speech-language treatment.

According to the article, hippotherapy (hippo is Greek for horse) involves SLPs–along with occupational and physical therapists–manipulating the movement of a horse to engage a patient’s sensory, cognitive and neurological functions.

“We are actively moving the horse to facilitate different neurological reactions in a person, including body control, posture and attention, which leads to speech and swallowing because it is all the same nervous system,” Macauley states in the article.

Macauley also performs academic research on finding connections and studying the efficacy of using horses in speech-language treatment.

Read about other ASHA members using out-of-the-ordinary approaches to treatment:

Boots, belt buckle, and even a cowboy hat—Catherine Coleman walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to working with clients and horses at the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program. 

Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org

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