Three year-old Ella has cerebral palsy, a condition caused by brain damage she sustained at birth that affects her ability to control movement and posture. But with a little help from her parents and her favorite horse, Ella is making great strides through hippotherapy, derived from the Greek word “hippo” for horse. Standing on the horse and supported on each side, the therapy uses the animal’s movements to replicate the movement of Ella’s pelvis in response. Ella’s motor function and body control have dramatically improved since starting hippotherapy, her parents explained, who make regular appointments at the 24-horse Clwyd Special Riding School in the United Kingdom. “This kind of physiotherapy is unique because when the children come to ride a horse they don’t think or feel like they are going to physiotherapy, as opposed to attending a session in a hospital or clinic for example,” Ella’s physiotherapist Lynne Munro said.
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