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Little girls have long sensed the healing power of horses. It turns out this love affair may have some basis in fact.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and Brain Injury Awareness USA is conducting a campaign to raise awareness of this issue and to destigmatize it and its effects. Brain injury is not necessarily an event or an outcome. Often it is the start of a misdiagnosed, misunderstood and underfunded neurological disease. Brain injury is the start of a lifelong disease process that needs access to a wide continuum of care, treatment and support. Brain injuries are each as unique as the individual it affects. Factors such as cause, outcome. severity, and location in the brain affect both the complexity and consequences for each individual.

CONCUSSION

Either through personal experience or the publicity around professional sports, the brain injury most familiar to us is concussion. The CDC defines a concussion as a “traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.” It is estimated that over 3 million cases occur each year. Thankfully, new protocols are being implemented today for the treatment of this type of brain injury.

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS SYNDROME (PTSD) and EQUINE THERAPY

Brain Injury patients such as those with a concussion have a higher prevalence of PTSD. An exciting new treatment of PTSD is the use of Equine Therapy, called Equine Facilitated Therapy (EFT). EFT is being used for a wide variety of people including military veterans, first responders, athletes, victims of abuse, recovering addicts and for the treatment of autism. The goal of all therapy is to channel the body’s natural healing ability with the brain’s relearning process for the best possible outcome. Horses can facilitate this process in 3 main ways:

Presence

Horses are non-judgemental.  They don’t obsess.  Their wisdom is based on being in the present, they exist moment to moment.  Horses respond to perceived danger by quickly running away and then going back to grazing.  They don’t obsess about the wolves.  Horses go right back to living and enjoying life, minute by minute.

Power

Horses lend their strength. You only have to be seated up on a horse to immediately feel bigger, stronger and taller. If you are fortunate to stand near a thoroughbred racehorse, you can see the sleek muscles and feel the raw strength in those magnificent animals.  People can draw upon this.

Acceptance and Love

Treat them well and they love you unconditionally. You can look into warm, intelligent eyes and tell them your secrets.  Researchers have found the calming effect of running your hand down a horses’ neck, draping your arm over their shoulders or having one nuzzle your hand offers a type of living bio-feedback machine.

According to Nicola Bridges, freelance writer for Parade.com “Although equine therapy hasn’t been deeply studied, research shows that horses are acutely attuned to human emotions and anecdotal accounts of their therapeutic impact abound.” Victims of brain injury, abuse and/or other trauma can all benefit by just getting into the stables, riding, caring or just being with horses. Other information is available from William and Elizabeth Shatner’s All Glory Project and the JAYC Foundation, founded by Jaycee Dugard.

Winston Churchill said, “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

NHS Solutions works will a talented team of Interim Healthcare Leaders to provide the best patient care possible for our client hospitals. We have a pool of Interim Behavioral Health Managers & Behavioral Health Directors as well as Interim Emergency Department Nurse Leaders who are on the forefront of brain injury treatment. Contact us for more information and to hear about the benefits of working with an NHS Solutions Interim Healthcare Leader.