Horsing around helps kids with autism, Down syndrome

15th, 2011
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Antalya, is increasingly becoming a popular destination for alternative health services, including equine therapy for children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and similar disabilities
The Berke Ranch Hotel and Horse Farm in the Kemer district of Antalya province provides hippotherapy, a technique highly sought after by the families of disabled children. Ufuk Uraz, general director of the Berke Ranch Hotel, described hippotherapy this way: “Children with disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome are mounted on a saddle-less horse with the help of physiotherapists for rehabilitation.” He went on to say that the ranch has been providing this type of therapy for five years and serves numerous children from Europe each year, with the main demand coming from German and Norwegian families. The ranch receives groups of children together with their doctors, physiotherapists and families, and Uraz says that many children who have attended therapy in previous years return for further therapy.
Therapist Koray İşcanoğlu said that mounting children on saddle-less horses is therapeutic for various reasons, “The body temperature, walking rhythm and movement of the horse create a massage effect on the vertebrae and hips of children who are required to stay in bed for long hours. Hippotherapy also plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of children who suffer from balancing problems and walking difficulty.” İşcanoğlu stated that the movement of a horse’s back muscles has a positive effect on the muscles of children who have difficulty walking.
“A child can improve his balance by balancing on the horse. In the case of autistic children, there is a concentration problem. The sound that a child hears when a horse starts to walk draws and holds the attention of that child. Besides, the self-confidence of a child is improved by being on top of a large animal,” said therapist İşcanoğlu.
Tim Lucas Schramek, an autistic German child, is having a hippotherapy in Antalya. His mother, Anna Schramek, told the Anatolia news agency that she brought her son to Antalya last year for dolphin therapy. Anna Schramek said her son is gaining physical movement through equine therapy, which will help him in his daily life. “Tim’s success and the gains he has made make us very happy. We will continue to use hippotherapy,” said Ms. Schramek.
Resource: Today’s Zaman

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