ST. LOUIS -- TREE House of Greater St. Louis – formerly Therapeutic Horsemanship – provides hippotherapy (horse therapy) for patients with a variety of disabilities including veterans, autism, Down syndrome and stroke.
TREE stands for therapy, recreation, education, exploration. Located in St. Charles County south of Wentzville, the facility provides occupation, physical and speech therapy all centered around horses.
The story of 8-year-old Marissa is just one of many success stories for the TREE House nonprofit.
Interestingly, because each individual horse has a different stride or walk or trot – each provides a slightly different therapy for the patient. Cowboy, the horse featured in Marissa's story, has a slightly faster pace than the former horse Marissa had been riding.
The idea is to graduate Marissa up to horses that provide increasing sensory input. This will keep her muscles and nerves challenged – increasing her strength, agility and dexterity.
We spoke with Marissa's mother, Jamie Carr, and she said they've had Marissa at Children's Hospital in St. Louis and even at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Marissa's condition causes her to have epilepsy and delayed development. It remains undiagnosed even after extensive testing.
By the age of one, Marissa had as many as 100 seizures a day. Since her hippotherapy, Marissa is has about 50 seizures a day, she has started to speak and make sounds for the first time in her life and she can walk without assistance.
Marissa's mother says her daughter has made incredible improvement in just this past year, and she seems to be gaining steam. Marissa has been at hippotherapy for just over a two years.
If you are looking for therapy or would like to support TREE House, visit http://www.thstl.org/.