An interview with one of AHA, Inc.'s newest Board Member

Laurie Schick, MPT, HPCS


How long have you been a part of AHA, Inc. and how did you become involved?  
I have been a member of the AHA since 2003 when I took my first Level 1 course. I started to become more involved with AHA when I began regularly attending the biannual conferences in 2009. Ruth Dismuke-Blakely helped myself, and others in Oregon, remove hippotherapy as an exclusion under our state Medicaid plan in 2015. Ruth asked me to join the Reimbursement Committee in 2016. My commitment and involvement with AHA, Inc. has continued to grow considerably since then. I was asked to be on the Terminology Summit group in an effort to provide uniform terminology across multiple industries that utilize the horse to benefit people. I joined the board in Spring of 2020 and am now chairing the Ethics, Advocacy, and Reimbursement committee.

How long and in what capacity have you been involved with horses?
I was one of those horse-crazy girls as a kid. I would ride on and off, whenever I had the chance. I got back into riding when I became a NARHA (now PATH) certified riding instructor in 2002. I have been incorporating hippotherapy as a treatment tool into my practice for over 16 years.

What population do you treat most utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment tool?

I work at the multidisciplinary pediatric clinic so I only treat up to age 18.

How do you explain what you do?
I try to make it very clear to my families, the general public, and referral sources that I am a physical therapist who specializes in using the movement of the horse as one of my treatment tools.

What is the most challenging thing about using hippotherapy as a treatment tool?
Consumers thinking that hippotherapy is a separate therapy, or a “therapeutic riding lesson” and not part of their PT plan of care. I feel like I am constantly correcting and educating others. Because the term hippotherapy can be confusing I usually say that I specialize in using the movement of the horse as one is my PT treatment tools. The other challenge is a financial one. We have been having to do fundraising, apply for grants, or use scholarship money to pay for the additional cost that is associated with hippotherapy as a treatment tool.

What is your favorite thing about using hippotherapy as a treatment tool?
I love the impact that it can have on my clients. There is truly no other treatment tool that can have the same effects on the neuromuscular system.

What do you like to do when not working?
I live in Bend, Oregon which is a gorgeous mountain town in Central Oregon. My family and I love to partake in all the year-round outdoor activities that Bend has to offer; skiing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, and kayaking/rafting to name a few. Also, when we are not in Covid crisis I love to travel.


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