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Walker Occupational Therapy Uses Horses and Pools to Help Patients

Posted by Brian Spence on May 25, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Horse, Occupational TherapyChildren with developmental disabilities are getting a bright start in life thanks to an innovative occupational therapy program that feels like playtime for these young people. They swim in a warmed pool with the help of an occupational therapist and also pet horses and brush their manes. These therapeutic sessions are provided by Walker Therapy.

Fifteen years ago, Nicole Walker, a graduate of Brenau College, and several of her classmates launched Walker Therapy based at Sunny Farms in Dahlonega, GA. Their therapists - who see as many as 24 patients per week - provide unique treatments to help build the coordination skills, strength, and balance of developmentally delayed children.

Unique Therapies Help Patients Master New Skills

Walker Therapy provides several forms of therapy, including aquatic therapy. Students, assisted by therapists, swim laps on a flotation device inside a heated pool to learn proprioception, a sensory awareness of their muscles and joints. The water provides "proprioceptive pressure," a sensory environment that allows patients to feel their body parts which helps them to improve their spatial awareness skills.

Additionally, this practice provides equine-assisted therapy, which uses anything that involves the horse as a therapeutic tool. This differs from hippotherapy which uses horseback riding to help patients.Through this, developmentally delayed patients learn upper extremity coordination while also brushing the horses' manes or braiding them. This experience helps the children form close, emotional connections with the horses that is both therapeutic and inspirational.

Expansion of Walker Therapy

Walker and her former classmate, Nolina Varley, started the occupational therapy program at Sunny Farms and the program has grown exponentially. As part of its growth, the pair decided to expand a clinical space to a new covered barn which includes trailers that act as classrooms. Their future hope is to create a new facility in Gainesville, GA..

Great therapists make all the difference in patients' lives and we can help connect your business to a professional occupational therapist that will make your business shine. Contact us for more information.

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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.