But now, Baylor University researchers have built a custom mechanical horse to help those with physical and mental impairments get the same benefit from hippotherapy without having to actually get on to a horse.
“Our vision is that the mechanical horse can provide better access and can act as a complementary tool to actual therapeutic horse riding,” said Dr. Brian Garner, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Baylor and a biomechanics expert. “If the patient is afraid of horses or it may not be safe for the patient to ride a horse, the mechanical horse can act as stepping stone to build the patient up to a level of stability so they can get on to a live horse.”
Garner said hippotherapy is unique and valuable as a therapeutic tool because it produces three-dimensional rhythmic, repetitive movements, which preliminary research has shown simulates the movements of the human pelvis while walking. The movements promote many physical benefits like increased circulation, development of balance and improved coordination among many others. Therapeutic riding can help children and adults with various impairments or delays in development, including those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome and autism.
Baylor’s prototype mechanical horse mimics a real horse by using a three-dimensional system. The stationary device with a moving saddle surface can move in virtually all directions in a cycling pattern, putting the body through a complex of movements just like real hippotherapy. To make sure the mechanical horse replicates as precisely as possible the movements of an actual horse, Baylor researchers took video-motion photography of several real horses walking and used that data to create the mechanical horses’ movement patterns.
Garner said the mechanical horse also can differ in speed – from a slow walking pace to a fast walking pace – and is the width of a normal horse. It can be used with or without a saddle and can simulate bare-back riding. The saddle also simulates real therapeutic riding saddles that have adjustable handle bars.
“There are some minor problems to fix, but overall the device looks promising,” Garner said.
Garner and his research team will now conduct additional research using the horse, studying the biomechanics of hippotherapy.
Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
It don't mean a thing if the brain ain't got that swing
28.07.2015 | University of California - Berkeley
MSU scientists set sights on glaucoma medication to treat TB
24.07.2015 | Michigan State University
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.
While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
28.07.2015 | Life Sciences
28.07.2015 | Materials Sciences
28.07.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation