Departments: Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
It was gratifying to receive the latest Pediatric Physical Therapy Journal (Fall 2008, Vol. 20, No. 3) and find that an article pertaining to “The Effects of Hippotherapy on Functional Outcomes for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study” as a featured article. American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA) is always looking to add quality articles to our bibliography for therapists who use hippotherapy as a therapeutic intervention.
I would, however, like to make a few comments about some of the terminology used in the article. Hippotherapy is no longer described as a “modality” as there is no evidence that any changes occur on the cellular level. The current terminology describes hippotherapy as a treatment strategy where the horse is the treatment tool and the movement of the horse is the treatment strategy. This change in terminology has been in the literature for close to 8 years.
Under the section of Procedure and Design: therapeutic horseback riding is bracketed. It appears that the authors used this term interchangeably with hippotherapy; however, therapeutic horseback riding is not synonymous with hippotherapy. “Therapeutic Riding” is a term used to describe Equine-Assisted Activities, which teach riding skills to a disabled population, whereas hippotherapy is a treatment strategy used by a licensed therapist and falls under the general heading of Equine-Assisted Therapy.
There is much confusion as to the difference between therapeutic riding and hippotherapy. AHA attempts to educate therapists and the public as to these differences. Should you be interested, Sarah Pictor, DPT, PCS, is on the Board of Directors of AHA and has offered her services to advice on current terminology.
Thank you for your consideration and AHA looks forward to many more articles on hippotherapy.
Bonnie Cunningham, MA, PT, HPCS
American Hippotherapy Association, Inc.