You may think you’re too disabled from your stroke to ride a horse. Maybe you think you’re too old. Perhaps you’ve never even been on a horse. But as a form of therapy, horseback riding can help you develop balance, coordination and strength.
Throughout America, hundreds of accredited therapeutic riding centers help people with disabilities. A therapy horse’s walk can stimulate your pelvis and trunk as it resembles your walk. The horse’s movements can cause your body to react in a three-dimensional, constantly changing pattern that improves muscle tone, stamina and balance.
Horseback riding has other therapeutic benefits:
- It’s fun.
- It can help you emotionally as you overcome fear and anxiety while increasing self-esteem.
- It has cognitive value as you learn to give commands to the horse.
- It allows you to practice speech and language skills.
To find a riding center near you, check out the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association
Making a Splash!
Water therapy after a stroke is usually recommended after significant progress with other therapies. It can help after stroke, but it may not be for everyone.
Here are a few things to consider:
- mobility of hands and feet
- cognitive ability
- fear of water
- access to a pool
Talk with your therapist about where to find a good program for you. Also, your local YMCA, YWCA or other community center may offer aquatic fitness or therapy classes. Regardless of whether water therapy is right for you, exercise is a good thing and should always be a part of the discussion for your continued improvement.