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Horse therapy provides patients with unique recovery process

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Some people may not link together the struggles that injured veterans and disabled children cope with. However, both groups deal with mental and physical issues that can prevent them from living independently. Horse-assisted physical therapy is a popular treatment option for handicapped youths, and programs are now expanding their availability to ailing service personnel.

Patients are matched with horses and learn how to care for and ride the animals. Pat Rimkus, who holds a physical therapist job as a riding instructor with a program sponsored by the Disabilities Resource Association in Desoto, Missouri, said equine therapy gives disabled children a safe space to grow and learn without feeling alienated by others.

"All of our participants have some sort of disability. We like them to come out and not let their disabilities define them. We want them to utilize the accomplishments of each day," Rimkus told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Some therapy programs have found that the horses provide similar psychological comfort to traumatized veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many members of the armed services who survived life-threatening situations. Dan Riley, a former helicopter crew chief in the Army, said in an interview with the Ventura County Star that horses provide the most comfort for his condition.

"We can be more honest and open with the horses. Their love is unconditional, they're not judgmental and they don't have an agenda," he said.

New equine programs are opening across the United States as the benefits of such arrangements become apparent. As new facilities offer horse-assisted therapy, new physical therapy jobs will open. If you're interested in working in a growing field within the health sector, a position in an equine therapy program may be worth researching. The job allows you to connect with your patients as they learn to overcome their ailments thanks to their horses. 

Reflectx Staffing Services  11/26/2012

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