Nov 7, 2012

Little Bit Hippotherapy

On Ainsley's birthday we got the unexpected phone call from Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center saying they had an opening for Ainsley. It can't be a coincidence and must be a gift from above. The wait list is 2 years and we put in our application ages ago. They'd called me the prior week with a Saturday 8am slot and I had to pass, and say it just wouldn't work. Ainsley would be too sleepy being pulled out of bed at that time. Plus Adrian frequently has games (soccer, basketball, baseball) Saturday mornings. When I refused that spot I fully expected that I wouldn't hear from them for months. So I was rather surprised to get a call the following week for this highly coveted weeknight evening therapy slot.

The timing couldn't be worse. As I've mentioned Steve was layed off in April. Yes he got a temporary contract but that was coming to an end on Oct. 31st. We have been fortunate that other therapies, speech occupational and physical therapies have been covered by insurance. I've made sure of that. Hippotherapy* on the other hand is not currently covered by most insurance companies.
*Hippotherapy (from Wikipedia) is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. A foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities. Unlike therapeutic horseback riding (where specific riding skills are taught), the movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal when utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment strategy.
And it's expensive at $115 per 45 minute session. That amount is apparently less than half of the actual cost of delivering that therapy. When you consider that rate is about what a physical therapist normally charges, plus they have horse handlers during the riding, administrative costs and the cost of maintaining the horses and the facility. adds up. So I suppose we should feel lucky, but right now all I can think of is the cost. If we passed on this spot we might not get another opportunity.

We have a (very, considering the cost of an education) small amount of money saved for the kids for college so we decided to take the spot and temporarily pay for it that way, and pray that Steve gets a job quickly. It will be tough to pay this much for therapy even if he is employed. If he doesn't get a job quickly then we may have to withdraw her. At least for now we can try it.

Ainsley's had a handful of 5 minute pony rides in her lifetime but this is different. For her first session she did really well. She was nervous at first but was calm and rode for about 20 minutes while I waited in the observation room and then later on the platform. Her horse was a Norwegian Fjord Horse named Wiki. After the riding portion the therapist worked with her doing some typical physical therapy activities in the therapy room.

Aside from the cost we're super excited to be accepted into this program. At our evaluation I had several very kind parents introduce themselves and say that their special needs child is still riding at Little Bit 20 or 25 years later. I figure that is a true testimonial. I can only hope that I'll feel the same way and that this therapy will help Ainsley learn to balance in standing and walk independently. That is our goal.  Here are some pictures and video.

It's basically dark at the stables.

 We were a bit early so we took a few minutes to look at the horses whose heads were poking out of the stables.
They walked her onto the platform and had her pet Wiki before she got on. *Photos taken through the observation glass.

Getting on Wiki for the first time.

And she's off.

Making her first loop.

A closeup of Wiki.

And the characteristic stripe down his mane.

Ainsley doing PT, picking up blocks (hands free) and putting them into the shape sorter. 
And here is video of her riding!  
(I wish the video quality was better but I took it with my point and shoot.)

1 comment:

  1. That's fantastic that Ainsley finally got a slot for hippotherapy. I'm just sorry that you have the financial stress that goes along with it. I'll keep Steve and your family in my thoughts and prayers that he secures employment quickly.