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Traumatic Brain Injury

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  • Traumatic Brain Injury

    Looking to see if anyone has experience with traumatic brain injury and therapeutic riding? My boss's wife had a horrific car accident last month. Not sure of all the details but she was in a coma for a week and in ICU for several weeks. She's now in a rehabilitation facility having to relearn everything - including how to walk. I've heard that therapeutic riding can be beneficial to those who have had TBI, but don't know of anyone with personal experience as to how it has helped. She used to ride when she was younger, and he told me he got her a horse squeezee to exercise her hands. Am hoping that this might be something that can give her some hope and motivation.

  • #2
    I don't have personal experience of how it works either but a horse's walk causes the human's body to feel the same as it felt to walk. Sort of a muscle memory or synapse thing depending upon whether the person was ever mobile or not.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home

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    • #3
      I think Courtney King-Dye has written quite extensively about how riding has helped her re-learn skills after her TBI. All the best to your boss's wife.

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      • #4
        One nice thing you could do would be to use your local horse contacts to find out if there's a program nearby that has a therapist on staff with experience working with people who've had TBI's. If there's a program with that expertise, share their info with your boss and let them take it from there. They might also ask the other therapists she's working with if they recommend it for her, when, where, etc.

        If the program closest to you only offers hippotherapy to young children, that won't be a good fit. They should ask a lot of questions before jumping in.

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        • #5
          A friend’s mother had a horrific stroke (at a young age, mid 40’s). Which left her unable to walk speak etc. She has been steadily improving through various therapies (now can walk with a cane, and can speak in sentences).

          Horses are an important part of her recovery. She does mounted therapy, the walking motion of a horse mimics our own walking motion, and helps her loosen, and strengthen her back and hips, while also improving balance.

          Plus, she was a horse owner, and horse lover before the incident. For so many of us, horses are good for the soul. They help her just relax and enjoy herself, while getting a positive physical benefit.
          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

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          • #6
            I agree with Appsolute.

            I had a mild stroke in 2007. was deemed "too well" to go to a decent rehab. when I saw my neurologist a week after the stroke, he told me to get on my horse as soon as I could. If my horse was not good, then a theraputic horse.

            I feel I would not have recovered as well if I had not ridden.


            I would go get my horse, tack him up and ride. It took me a while to be self-sufficient, but I did as much as I could, eventually, being able to do it all.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Maryland Therapeutic Riding is located nearby so I will stop by and see what information they might have. I brought it up with my boss - it wasn't anything that he had heard of but he was quite interested in it. He said she was still a long way from being able to do anything like that but it was something that he felt might motivate her. Thanks for the responses.

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              • #8
                OP MHR can help, I'd recommend getting the boss out there for a talk and a watch as the next step. I was long involved w/ a program in Ohio before moving, and it never failed to amaze me the way people benefited.
                We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I wound up buying "Traumatic Brain Injury and Therapeutic Riding" by Anita Shkedi and gave it to him. He came back in to work today and was quite excited by it - I think he thought she was a long way from doing something like this but after reading the book, he thinks it's something that can help her now. He's going to contact Maryland Therapeutic Riding to find out more about the program. Really hoping it works out for them!

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                  • #10
                    Get her on a horse ASAP!

                    I had a brain tumor removed and woke up from surgery paralyzed on the entire left side of my body from the neck down. I was not expected to recover. Today (seven years later) I walk with only a slight gimp and I credit my recovery mainly to my horses. I moved south (from Wisconsin) because we thought the warmer weather would help and there I discovered foxhunting. My horses are all so kind and honest -- I only fell off a few times -- I must've looked ridiculous, though, hanging on to mane for dear life because I hadn't the motor control to put my left foot back in the stirrup once I lost it. Sometimes I was so far back the coyote circled around and lapped me -- I got some of the best views! -- now I walk with only a slight gimp and never lose my stirrup at all anymore.
                    "To ride a horse is to borrow freedom."

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                    • #11
                      A local cowboy was dragged thru the brush and ended up with a stick in his brain.

                      He was severely handicapped and as soon as he could, everyone made it possible for him to get on a horse and they think that is why he advanced as rapidly as he did, although he is still years later severely handicapped, mentally and physically.

                      That was some 30 or so years ago, today they have so much better ways to handle brain injuries, but yes, see if she is at a point where she can safely get on a horse, or at least get her on an http://equicizer.com/ type horse until she can.
                      They really move just like a real horse and are used for therapy in some places.

                      Wish her the best, that is terrible.

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                      • #12
                        I boarded at a therapeutic riding facility for three years and moved at the beginning of this summer.

                        Yes, it DOES help. Not only physically, but it gives even extremely immobile individuals the chance to get the walking motion from riding and really something to just look forward to and enjoy. The program was geared towards the individual goal of each rider and had riders of all ages from someone in rehab from a hip or back injury to riders that are completely wheelchair bound and need a special saddle. But yes, even though I didn't work IN the program I was there every day and could see visible improvement for many.

                        There are wonderful programs out there, you just need to look for them.

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                        • #13
                          I second the idea that riding and working with horses helps. About a year ago, I suffered a brain aneurysm. My horses patiently helped me recover a lot of skills.

                          Everything was broken. Multitasking was just wrong. Even lungeing my horses showed that. They would stop and want to know what I wanted as my aids were conflicting. They were so patient and the immediate feedback helped me progress. I went from being able to do one thing at a time to being able to handle complex activities. They were loving and the best to work with.

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