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Hospital to Take Young Patients with Cerebral Palsy and Other Conditions on Therapeutic Horseback Riding Trip

Fun activity has therapeutic benefits for patients with conditions affecting muscle control and coordination.

New York, NY—August 25, 2017

The Adaptive Sports Academy at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Lerner Children’s Pavilion is enabling young patients with cerebral palsy or another physical challenge to participate in activities they never dreamed possible. The academy organizes trips and recreational experiences for pediatric patients to build their self-confidence, encourage independence, and increase physical activity and mobility. The program is offered without cost, thanks to the generosity of donors and sponsors.

About 20 patients have signed up for the next trip to Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship in Mount Kisco, New York on August 28. Endeavor riding instructors certified by PATH Intl. will introduce the young people, ages 5 to 21, to horseback riding. Endeavor is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited center, and its mission is to empower individuals with a broad range of special needs by providing the highest quality equine assisted activities and therapies in an inclusive and welcoming environment. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is a credentialing organization, global authority, resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs.

Most of the patients who’ve signed up have cerebral palsy or another condition that affects body movement, muscle control, posture and balance. Some have had multiple surgeries by pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Hospital for Special Surgery, located in Manhattan, and have been patients for years. Many use crutches or a walker to get around.

Studies have shown that equine-assisted activities and therapies are beneficial for people with a broad range of disabilities. "The benefits include improved posture, muscle tone, and gait patterns, or walking. These gains can lead to functional improvement in everyday activities like walking, jumping, and running in children with cerebral palsy," said Christina Pierozzi, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Department at Hospital for Special Surgery. "Children with CP can also have muscle imbalances or spasticity, which can impair their motor skills. Participating in a therapeutic riding program can help overall muscle balance, which improves standing and walking."

Previous academy outings have proven to be life-changing for many children and teenagers, enabling them to participate in a sport or activity for the very first time. On previous trips, they were thrilled to learn they could climb a rock wall, ski down a slope or even ride a wave while surfing.

"It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to socialize with other patients and accomplish things they didn’t realize they could achieve," says Peyton Katz, pediatric patient and family care coordinator at HSS. "Some kids are not sure at first how well they’ll do, but they always exceed their own expectations. Some parents cry when they see what their child can achieve."

Endeavor executive director, Emily Bushnell notes, "Endeavor is thrilled to be welcoming the patients from HSS, along with their families, to the farm. The participants will begin to learn how to ride, will brush horses in the barn, and learn more about horses in our equine themed classroom through arts and crafts".

"The Adaptive Sports Academy gives our patients a chance to develop new skills and interests, and it promotes mobility and activity. It also reinforces physical therapy goals by engaging participants in a new activity and requiring them to use their bodies in a new way," explains Dr. Lisa Ipp, chief of Pediatric Medicine at HSS. "There is also an emotional component. Patients are so excited about what they can achieve, and parents are so thrilled to watch them. The outings have also cultivated connections between families who stay in contact long after the event ends."

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About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic of musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


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