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NEWS

Welcome to the REST® interactive news page!

 

We regularly share here our own thoughts or those who are working to improve the lives of those living with neurological disorders, like ADHD.

The Research Behind the

Equine Therapy and ADHD

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

While research behind equine therapy has been in many ways, incomplete, the research around the neurological effects of equine therapy may be even less comprehensive. Yet, therapeutic riding programs have been especially effective with attentional disorders, and many have speculated that this has to do with the areas of the brain that are stimulated by riding a horse.

 

Somehow, the combination of vertical, horizontal and lateral balance that is required by the movements of the horse stimulate the rider’s central nervous system. These areas of the brain that control specific motor functions also correspond to a variety of behaviors. In response to this, neurotransmitters, such as natural endorphins, are released and can cause a variety of emotional and behavioral effects (Spink, 1993). These behavioral effects are similar to the effects of the “workout high” or “runner’s high.”

 

Because of this effect, recent research studies have looked into the profound impact of therapeutic riding with a variety of populations. Kaiser, Smith, Heleski, and Spence (2006) used an 8-week therapeutic riding program, to demonstrate decreases in anger in adolescent males. Additionally, these mothers’ perceptions of their sons’ behaviors improved. Another study found statistically significant improvements in self-concept, intellectual and school status, popularity, happiness, and satisfaction in emotionally and behaviorally challenged teens (Emory, 1992).

 

And these effects have also been found with patients with thought disorders and learning disabilities. Scheidhacker, Bender, and Vaitel (1991) found that people with chronic schizophrenia managed their symptoms much better while participating in therapeutic riding. Learning disabled children showed improved information retrieval and processing when working with horses (Crothers’, 1994).

 

As riding a horse stimulates both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, it is also thought that the areas of the brain that control attention, impulses, and activity levels are directly stimulated. As energy is directed to different parts of the brain, and attention is called to many separate tasks at once (picture holding reins, balancing, and directing the horse, all while completing a task), the neurotransmitters released when riding create an effect that is similar to the one created by stimulant medication. This then makes it possible for an ADHD child to concentrate; be less hyperactive, fidget, impulsive.

 

References:

Crothers, G. (1994). Learning disability: Riding to success. Nursing Standard, 8, 16-18.

 

Emory, D. (1992). Effects of therapeutic horsemanship on the self-concepts and behavior of asocial adolescents. Dissertation Abstracts International, DAI-B 53/05, 561.

 

Kaiser, L., Smith, K., Heleski, C., & Spence, L. (2006). Effects of a therapeutic riding program on at-risk and special needs children. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 228, 46-52.

 

Scheidhacker, M., Bender, W., and Vaitel, P. (1991). The effectiveness of therapeutic horseback riding in the treatment of chronic schizophrenic patients. Experimental results and clinical experiences. Nervenarzt, 62, 283-287.

 

Spink, J. (1993). Developmental riding therapy: A team approach to assessment and treatment. Therapy Skill Builders. Tucson, Az.

 

 

Idea Week to see co-founders of device meant to help students with special needs

Idea Week is in full swing in South Bend and Elkhart.

 

It's a celebration of ideas that have turned into action and it's also a gathering to inspire future innovation.

 

One device created and built locally is showing promise for disabled kids.

 

It's called REST, Responsive Equine Simulator Therapy.

 

Two local women are proving that innovators can be any age.

 

Harriet Phillips and Marilyn Brown are co-founders of REST.

 

They say research has shown horseback riding helps calm children and adults.

 

"And it's not because of some fuzzy feeling. It has everything to do with the structure of the two animals and our pelvic bone,” said Brown.

 

That's why they created REST to replicate that sensation of sitting on a horse.

 

The goal is to help students with special needs, like autism, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, concentrate on the task before them.

 

"It will help the teacher teach more efficiently. The other children learn better and it will help the child that's using it to focus,” said Phillips.

 

The blue pattern on the seat is even designed with those children in mind, making it look fun.

 

"My theory has always been, if you can get a kid to sit still long enough to learn to read, you've changed his life,” said Phillips.

 

REST is now being used in a special needs classroom at Madison Primary in South Bend.

 

Philip Robles works with those students.

 

He says it helps kids relax, regroup and refocus.

 

"The majority of them utilize it and it works. It works. It helps them to calm down, you know if they are having a rough day,” said Robles.

 

Seat movement is activated when a child sits on it.

 

It can accommodate any person up to 200 pounds now, but Marilyn & Harriet are looking to expand how the device is used.

 

"It strengthens the core. If it strengthens the core that would be very good for people of had strokes,” said Brown.

 

They are working on a model that can hold more weight with their design and manufacturing team in St. Joseph, Michigan.

 

"Fantastic engineers, terrific design they are also our manufacturers now. And it's 30 miles up the road. We don't need Silicon Valley,” said Phillips.

 

REST costs about $1,800. but it's designed to last forever.

 

REST co-founders will be at the Duncan Student Center at the University of Notre Dame Friday along with other local entrepreneurs.

Harriet Phillips & Marilyn Brown

Co-Founders, GAIT LLC

 

New Device Founded in South Bend Produces Therapeutic Treatment for Children with Autism

Therapeutic horseback riding has proven to be an effective treatment for children with autism…now two retired women from South Bend have captured the benefits in the form of a mechanical device. We introduce you to the founders of REST.

Made in Michiana:
New product calms those with neurological disorders

St. Joseph, Mich. -- Harriet Phillips has been retired for 15 years. Her friend Marilyn Brown has been retired for five months. That isn’t the case now.

 

It was about four years ago when Harriet was talking to a good friend.  Her friend told her about a family trip they were going on. She was nervous because she didn’t know how her grandson, who has autism, would respond to horses. Turns out, when her grandson got on a horse, he was a different person. That is when Harriet knew she had an idea, an idea that could help calm people of all ages with neurological disorders such as autism, ADHD and PTSD.

 

“She had said, ‘Why can't they have a horse 24 hours a day?’” says Gait LLC Co-Founder Marilyn Brown.

 

With REST or Responsive Equine Simulator Therapy, they can. Phillips and Brown started their own company called Gait, after the gait of a horse. Now, they needed to find someone to make their product. That's where Edgewater Development, a company located in St. Joseph, Michigan, came in.

 

“I was excited. I actually had goose bumps thinking that here is something that might actually really be helpful to a community that might not otherwise receive that help,” explains Edgewater Development Production Manager Robert Blake.

 

They went to the drawing board and eventually made their first prototype. There were a lot of change that were made and the discussion started about color.

 

“It never occurred to us that color was a serious problem to autistic and attention deficit children,” says Phillips.

 

They decided on denim.

 

“Denim is universally known, accepted. Mom, dad, the kids, the neighbor's, the dog, everybody is wearing denim,” adds Phillips.

 

Finally, REST was finished. It weighs 43 pounds, has a rechargeable battery, is pressure activated and is easy to clean. It has three speeds, multiple motions like an actual horse and two different heights. Production started May 1st.

 

“What I love is when we get the reports back from the field of the units that are out there being used. The prototypes that are being used have been very well received everywhere they have gone and that is energizing,” says Blake.

 

Phillips says this product is good for anyone who has a need for it. That includes schools, private classrooms, homes, camps, the list goes on. It costs $1850.

 

Madison Elementary School has one right now thanks to a grant.

Locally-built seat helps relax kids with special needs

A local elementary school was awarded funding by The Education Foundation to purchase a piece of equipment that could help improve the lives of kids with special needs.

 

Madison Elementary School teachers tested out the REST Seat in their classroom and realized they wanted one permanently.

 

The seat works by simulating the calming motions of riding on a horse.

 

"The idea is that REST stands for 'responsive, equine, simulated therapy,' and we have found in our testing that attention deficit, autism, and any similar neurological issues, both in children and adults, are helped by this responsive motion," explained inventor Harriet Phillips.

 

The seat is portable and built locally in St. Joseph, Michigan.

There's a new device, designed locally that is helping those with Autism, ADHD and PTSD.

 

Video courtesy of Michiana Public Broadcasting Corporation

 

It was about four years ago when Harriet was talking to a good friend.  Her friend told her about a family trip they were going on. She was nervous because she didn’t know how her grandson, who has autism, would respond to horses. Turns out, when her grandson got on a horse, he was a different person. That is when Harriet knew she had an idea, an idea that could help calm people of all ages with neurological disorders such as autism, ADHD and PTSD.

 

 “She had said, ‘Why can't they have a horse 24 hours a day?’” says Gait LLC Co-Founder Marilyn Brown.

 

With REST or Responsive Equine Simulator Therapy, they can. Phillips and Brown started their own company called Gait, after the gait of a horse. Now, they needed to find someone to make their product. That's where Edgewater Development, a company located in St. Joseph, Michigan, came in.

 

 “I was excited. I actually had goose bumps thinking that here is something that might actually really be helpful to a community that might not otherwise receive that help,” explains Edgewater Development Production Manager Robert Blake.

 

They went to the drawing board and eventually made their first prototype. There were a lot of change that were made and the discussion started about color.

 

“It never occurred to us that color was a serious problem to autistic and attention deficit children,” says Phillips.

 

They decided on denim.

 

“Denim is universally known, accepted. Mom, dad, the kids, the neighbor's, the dog, everybody is wearing denim,” adds Phillips.

 

Finally, REST was finished. It weighs 43 pounds, has a rechargeable battery, is pressure activated and is easy to clean. It has three speeds, multiple motions like an actual horse and two different heights. Production started May 1st.

 

“What I love is when we get the reports back from the field of the units that are out there being used. The prototypes that are being used have been very well received everywhere they have gone and that is energizing,” says Blake.

 

Phillips says this product is good for anyone who has a need for it. That includes schools, private classrooms, homes, camps, the list goes on. It costs $1850.

 

Madison Elementary School has one right now thanks to a grant.

 

EXPERIENCE
MICHIANA

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REST is a seat that you straddle like a saddle. It mechanically replicates the slow, walking gait of a horse and hopes to be a breakthrough in the care of those with ASD, ADHD and PTSD.

 

Please check back here often for news, and tell your friends, colleagues and family members about REST.

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GAIT LLC, P.O. Box 6066, South Bend, IN, 46615-6066, 844-264-REST

 

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