Timberwolff Stables Whitehouse Ohio - Hippotherapy Program with St. Vincent Mercy Children's Hospital
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The term hippotherapy refers to 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.

Hippotherapy offers an enjoyable therapeutic experience for the child that cannot be duplicated in the clinic. There is a natural therapeutic benefit that develops when children and horses are together, both physically and emotionally.

Children with a variety of disabilities can be seen including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury, Down’s syndrome, genetic disorders, spina bifida, sensory processing disorder, weakness from chemotherapy and developmental delays.

The horse’s movement has rhythmicity, symmetry, a dynamic base of support and three dimensional movement, all of which provide the patient with movement experiences difficult to replicate in a traditional therapy environment. The horse’s gait pattern is very similar to the human gait pattern. It is this movement experience that allows patients to achieve new abilities and strengths. These include improved balance, muscle tone, strength, endurance, coordination, self confidence, concentration, attention span and sensory processing.

The therapy session is billed to insurance companies as physical, occupational therapy or speech therapy. The therapists are paid through the hospital as hospital employees. The added cost to this program is the lease fees needed to use the horse and facility. There are also added liability insurance costs. The program must raise money each year to meet these added expenses to provide this form of therapy to our children.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions.



MULTIMEDIA: See a multimedia presentation on hippotherapy.

For more information about the
Hippotherapy Program
please contact
Tracey Lewis
Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center
at (419) 509-7318

American Hippotherapy Association 

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International


Physical Therapist, Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist  (HPCS)

Tracey Lewis is a pediatric physical therapist who has been practicing in pediatrics for over 30 years in a variety of settings. These include private practice, Children's hospitals, in Orlando FL, Toledo OH and early intervention services in Denver, CO. She graduated from Ohio State University in 1981. She has taken numerous continuing education courses on the care and treatment of children with neurological deficits. In 2003 she became a PATH Intl. certified instructor. In 2006/07 she became a Registered Therapist with the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA). In 2017 she became board certified as a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS). Tracey has worked for Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center since Jan/05 and began a hippotherapy program with the hospital in Sept/06. She currently works three days a week providing hippotherapy services to a variety of children ages 2-18 years old.

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