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MiraColt Horse Simulator for Neurological Movement Disorders

The MiraColt™ : Motion Simulation to promote access to horseback riding benefits

People’s lives are being transformed by equine-assisted therapy, particularly those with movement or functional disability. At Chariot Innovations, we believe that individuals who cannot readily access a horse, should not be denied the wonderful benefits realized through horseback riding.

The MiraColt™ equine (horse) motion simulator enables and increases access to the critical therapy benefits for people who would otherwise not have access due to logistical, environmental or other practical or personal reasons. Here are a couple of neurological (physical, neuromotor or developmental) movement disorders that can benefit from using the MiraColt™ equine motion simulator.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is one of the more common disabilities impacting children’s mobility. It is a group of neurological disorders that affect muscle movement and coordination. It is caused by damage to the developing brain, usually before or during birth, but can also occur in early childhood. Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include difficulty with muscle control and coordination, including spasticity, which causes stiffness and difficulty with movement; dyskinesia, which causes involuntary movements; and ataxia, which causes problems with balance and coordination. People with cerebral palsy may also have difficulty with speech, vision, and hearing.

The MiraColt™ equine motion simulator is a device designed to complement therapeutic interventions for individuals with cerebral palsy by improving core strength, posture, stability, and control. The simulator mimics the movements of a horse, which provides therapeutic benefits similar to those experienced through hippotherapy (therapy that harnesses the benefits of horseback riding). Thus, helping to improve balance, coordination, and muscle strength, which can lead to improved mobility and overall physical function.

In addition to the physical benefits, there is anecdotal use evidence from special learning centers and therapy centers that have adopted the MiraColt™, that the simulator also has a positive impact on cognitive function. Studies have found that horseback riding and related therapies can improve speech, memory, and learning in individuals with neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy.

Stroke

The impact of a Stroke can vary depending on the location and severity of the stroke, but common impairments include paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, difficulty with speech and language, vision problems, and cognitive impairments. These impairments can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as dressing, eating, and bathing, and can significantly impact mobility and quality of life.

The MiraColt™ simulator’s design mimics the movement of a horse, providing patients with a safe and controlled environment to practice and improve their core strength, posture, balance, gait, stability, and control. It can help patients reduce their risk of falls, improve their overall fitness and confidence, and enhance their quality of life. Additionally, the use of the simulator has been shown to benefit caregivers by reducing their burden of care and improving their emotional well-being.

Parkinson’s Disease

The MiraColt™ is an important complement in therapy for adults living with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement, balance, and coordination. Common symptoms include tremors, stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty with balance and coordination. These symptoms can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as walking, dressing, and eating, and can significantly impact mobility and quality of life.

The use of the MiraColt™ equine motion simulator as a neurorehabilitation intervention tool in physical, occupational, and speech therapy for Parkinson’s disease management is an innovative approach that has shown promise in improving various aspects of patients’ physical and mental health. The MiraColt™ improves balance, gait, and motor function in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In addition, it has been found to reduce tremors and improve speech and communication skills in some patients. The simulator provides a unique and engaging sensory experience that helps patients with Parkinson’s disease to maintain their physical and mental health. It offers a safe and controlled environment for patients to engage in equine therapy, and the simulator can be programmed to provide a variety of sensory experiences. Research in this area is ongoing, and the results so far are encouraging.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a condition that targets the nervous system, causing a range of symptoms, such as muscle weakness, fatigue, vision problems, difficulty with balance and coordination, numbness in the legs and torso, unsteady gait, and pain with movement.

Horseback riding is beneficial for individuals with MS as it can provide physical, emotional, and social benefits. The simulated horse-riding motion of the MiraColt™ stimulates the rider’s muscles, improves balance and coordination, and enhances overall physical strength and endurance. In addition, it helps promote or provide a sense of independence and empowerment for individuals with MS as well as being a fun and enjoyable source of stress relief, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Autism

Some estimate that at least 1 in every 44 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While every child on the spectrum may have a vastly different set of traits, equine therapy for autism can help with many of them. Although the MiraColt™ cannot provide the bonding, grooming and other more sensory or sensual benefits that interactions with live horses provide for people with Autism, the device does provide physical, motor and some cognitive benefits. It has been shown to improve motor control, rhythm, spatial orientation, and also result in increased attention span. 

The repetitive, multidimensional, and yet rhythmic movement of the MiraColt™ plays an important calming and equilibrating role. This is of great advantage in a positive feedback loop in a learning environment (as has been applied in the special education learning environments where the MiraColt™ has been introduced). The device is also a great therapeutic “toy” that can fit in a classroom, home, therapy or clinic environment.

Down Syndrome

Some of the biggest challenges for people with Down Syndrome are related to their musculoskeletal system. Down syndrome can cause weak muscles, loose joints, and hip instability, leading to impaired mobility. While there is limited research on the use of horseback riding or hippotherapy specifically for individuals with Down syndrome, there is some evidence to suggest that it may be beneficial.

One study published in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy found that hippotherapy improved balance, postural control, and gross motor function in children with Down syndrome. Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that hippotherapy improved fine motor skills, balance, and walking speed in adults with Down syndrome. The MiraColt™ simulator’s design mimics the movement of a horse, providing patients with a safe and controlled environment to experience the motion stimulation benefits that they would experience when riding a live horse. It is therefore a viable solution for both adults and children who cannot get to or on a horse to experience the benefits and joys of horseback riding.

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