Hooves 4 Healing: The Capacity of the Horse in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation
Ryan, Laura A.
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Hooves 4 Healing: The Capacity of the Horse in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation is a multifaceted, evidence-based program that uses horses and nature as the media for the physical, cognitive, and psychological rehabilitation of individuals who have or had breast cancer. Such vulnerabilities may occur from the cancer disease itself, as well as from the processes used to treat it. Physical vulnerabilities include decreased strength, range of motion and upper-body coordination, cardiovascular endurance, balance, and mobility. Cancer-related cognitive impairments include vulnerabilities in executive functioning such as planning, memory, attention, and problem-solving. Cancer and its treatments often elicit mental fatigue that negatively affects attention and the joy of life. Collectively, these vulnerabilities may lead to occupational imbalance through the loss of independence and engagement in important and meaningful roles and relationships. Through grooming and quiet reflective interactions with horses in outdoor environments such as paddocks or fields, Hooves 4 Healing addresses these vulnerabilities. Engaging in a novel equine-based rehabilitation program in a nonclinical environment will support participants’ physical, cognitive, and psychosocial needs in a restorative, nature-rich setting, thus facilitating the return to meaningful occupations and life roles.
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