Dianne Garcia, MSPT
Dianne Garcia has over 14 years of experience in Hippotherapy. She developed GallopNYC’s current hippotherapy program in 2007, where it continues to grow. In each session, Dianne brings together her experience, compassion, and the unique benefits of the horse’s movement to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Over the past several years Dianne has set up clinical affiliations with three universities to further educate other therapists to the field. She works for the NYC Department of Education in the NEST program which specializes in integrating children and adolescents on the Autistic Spectrum, in all aspects of their school day.
GallopNYC offers hippotherapy sessions at GallopNYC Forest Hills in Queens and Prospect Park’s Bowling Green in Brooklyn. We are planning to expand our hippotherapy services to GallopNYC Sunrise Stables in the near future.
Physical Therapy Students
We currently have graduate student affiliations with Columbia University, College of Staten Island, Touro and York College in the fields of physical and occupational therapy.
The American Hippotherapy Association (AHA.org) states, “Hippotherapy is how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care.”
The benefits of Hippotherapy include:
- Postural control and core stability
- Gait training
- Improved energy expenditure
- Sensory stimulation, including vestibular, somatosensory, and visual sensation
- Improved vocalization
- Better ability to follow directions
- Enhanced quality of life due to increased function
Treatment sessions run from 30 to 60 minutes and are planned based on individualized goals and assessments. Physical therapists add motor tasks to the horse’s movement to address the needs of each patient and to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability, such as sitting, standing, and walking. During Hippotherapy changing rider positions, gait speed, and direction of the horse address impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities. Patients are supported by the therapist, side walkers, and volunteers during the session.
Who Benefits from Hippotherapy?:
- Abnormal muscle tone (Cerebral Palsy)
- Impaired balance, coordination, and gait
- Impaired sensorimotor function (Sensory Integration Disorder)
- Postural asymmetry
- Poor postural control
- Delayed speech and language
- Executive functioning
- Motor coordination associated with autism
- Developmental delays
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neuromusculoskeletal disorders