Spina Bifida and Therapeutic Riding

Spina Bifida and Therapeutic Riding

Reprinted from Strides Magazine, July 1997 (Vol. 3, No. 3)
By Liz Baker, PT, Medical Committee Chairman
Spina bifida is a descriptive diagnosis that also goes by the names myelomeningocele, spina bifida cystica, and myelodysplasia. It is diagnosed at birth by the presence of an external sac on the child’s back along the spine. This sac contains the spinal cord and the meninges, the protective layers of tissue that enclose the spinal cord. Surgery is usually performed within days after birth to close the causative defect in the vertebrae so that the myelomeningocele (and the spinal cord) is no longer exposed, and less likely to be injured.
Medical Considerations for Therapeutic Riding
Reprinted from Strides Magazine, July 1997 (Vol. 3, No. 3)
By Liz Baker, PT, Medical Committee Chairman
In the past, riders with spina bifida have been considered to be the least problematic, most capable and most likely to benefit from horseback riding.  Although the center’s instructors and therapists need to closely monitor the rider for the problems discussed above, therapeutic riding continues to be in most instances a very healthy, beneficial and therapeutic activity for all people with spina bifida. Many such people can progress to high levels of independence in their riding skills and go on to competition. Therapeutic riding can be an excellent lifelong way for the person with spina bifida to maintain or improve functional life skills, fitness and strength, while providing a rewarding experience for the rider and the entire therapeutic riding team.