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Horseback Riding Can Help Kids with Cerebral Palsy: Experts
2006-05-23 13:42:09    Shanghai Daily
Medical experts are considering horseback riding therapy for children with cerebral palsy, but they face hurdles due to the high cost and possible reluctance from riding clubs.
The Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation said there is no such therapy in the city, which has limited funds for cerebral palsy rehabilitation. Private charities, and foreign or local companies might be asked to help once a horseback riding proposal is mapped out. 

Cerebral palsy is a disability caused by brain damage before or during birth or in the first years, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscular control and coordination. Shanghai has about 50,000 such patients. 

Other simple, less expensive therapies are available, including exercises, sports therapies and use of special ladders and equipment. 

According to Dr Yang Hong from Fudan University's Children's Hospital, riding therapy can help improve a patient's physical condition, cognition and mobility. It can improve balance and posture while sitting and walking. 

Horses are intelligent and friendly and contact with them can improve children's courage and intelligence, doctors said. 

"However, horse therapy requires special riding rings, horses, equipment and trained staff," said Luo Weifen, a hospital official. "So far, we haven't approached a club." 

Riding clubs charge 200 yuan (US$25) to 300 yuan per person for 45 minutes or one hour. 

"We never heard about horse therapy. The club may not provide riding for children with cerebral palsy," said an official from the Shanghai Jialiang Horse Club. 

"Horseback riding is risky even for healthy people, let alone those with mobility defects." 

Gao Yali, director of Shanghai Boai Center for Cerebral Palsy Children, said that parents should think twice before sending their children to horse riding clubs for treatment.
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