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Healing People on Horseback

Chagrin Falls, Ohio - November 3, 2008 - Equine-assisted healing techniques for people diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy will be scientifically tested in 2009 by two separate professional research teams, with the assistance of $100,000 in funding from the Horses and Humans Research Foundation.

The foundation, which supports rigorous scientific research that substantiates the healing impact of horses on humans, reported that applications for funding were received from a variety of countries and represented 16 universities. The stringent selection process resulted in awards to Good Hope Equestrian Training Center in Miami, FL and the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, Canada.

"One in every 150 kids has autism," said Molly Sweeney, HHRF Board of Directors' president. "This pervasive development disorder can have devastating impacts on a family. The economic impact per child is estimated at $30,000 annually, and there are very few effective treatments. We are thrilled at the prospect of providing evidence of hope."

The Good Hope Equestrian Training Center is a 20-acre facility in southern Florida. Their research team will evaluate the effects of equine interaction on 7- to 12-year-old children diagnosed with autism. The research will focus on social function, attention and distractibility.

The University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres is the first grant awarded internationally by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation. The university, located 85 miles north-east of Montreal, will conduct research measuring the effect of a ten-week hippotherapy Intervention on the control of head and trunk movement of children with cerebral palsy. Eighteen subjects and their horses will be fitted with telemetry-recording accelerometers to document the speed and magnitude of the subjects' upper body and head displacement throughout the program and eight weeks after.

The Horses and Humans Research Foundation was established in 2002 to fund research that will improve equine-assisted activities/therapies (EAA/T) best practices and to increase awareness of EAA/T benefits.

There are nearly 750 EAA/T programs in the United States affiliated with the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association and over 40,000 participants, which represents only a portion of the programs operating nationally and internationally.

The Foundation's first award in 2006 went to Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy. During a year-long study, the team measured stability changes in children with cerebral palsy after 12 weeks of therapeutic horseback riding. The study provided strong evidence that hippotherapy, the use of rhythmic movements of a horse to effect therapeutic gains, substantially improves both head and trunk stability and upper extremity function in children with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. The results also dramatically displayed that students maintained the improvements after their sessions ended.

Horses and Humans Research Foundation grant awards are made possible by the generous contributions of foundations, individuals, businesses and therapeutic riding programs nationwide. An anonymous $500,000 challenge grant matches every dollar contributed to the organization.

To view the finding and reports of the 2006 Washington University project, visit http://www.HorsesandHumans.org. More information about the 501(c)3 organization, including contribution forms, can also be found at the Web site.

Horses and Humans Research Foundation

HHRF is dedicated to facilitating universal understanding and appreciation of the significant influence of horses on humans. The foundation promotes research that will directly benefit program participants and educate the public including parents, donors, insurance companies and the medical community regarding the benefits of equine-assisted activities/therapies. For more information contact KC Henry, executive director at (440) 543.8306 or by email. Or visit us online.

Good Hope Equestrian Training Center

The Good Hope Equestrian Training Center was established in 1999 as a not for profit organization with a mission of providing disabled individuals activities that offer opportunities to increase their independence and quality of life.

University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres

The University is located halfway between Montréal and Québec. "At UQTR, learning and research involve the same hard work as anywhere else"...

 

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