Spinal Compression Fracture - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-25-2017, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Spinal Compression Fracture

Hello, I am 65 years old, and have not ridden in years. I have several serious medical issues, including a spinal compression fracture, and arthritis on my spine and now in my knees. But, I really want to ride again. Would I be a candidate for therapeutic riding, and what is the cost?
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-25-2017, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cowgirllinda1952 View Post
Hello, I am 65 years old, and have not ridden in years. I have several serious medical issues, including a spinal compression fracture, and arthritis on my spine and now in my knees. But, I really want to ride again. Would I be a candidate for therapeutic riding, and what is the cost?
Due to liability reasons because of the spinal compression fracture, I would have my doubts if a program would accept you. I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Have you considered learning to drive? Some of the carts are pretty well sprung and wouldn't hurt your knees to get in and out of, and probably wouldn't cause more compression in your back. And of course, I'd recommend asking your MD if it's safe for you to do either one, you don't want to go from arthritis to paralyzed.

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post #3 of 5 Old 11-25-2017, 07:17 AM
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Hi @cowgirllinda1952 !

You should find a therapeutic riding center near you and ask them for an initial screening, which would generally require medical release. Your spinal cord injury is likely a “contraindication” to riding, i.e., a medical condition that may make riding unsafe. This is an example physician overview of contraindications: http://www.vtea.ca/pdfs/physicianguidelines.pdf

That said, Dreamcatcher had the great suggestion of considering driving, which many equine assisted therapy programs do offer. There are also a growing number of programs that do extensive unmounted and groundwork activities, individually or in groups.

If you visit www.pathintl.org, you can use the “Find a Center” feature to look for a program near you and see a list of the types of equine assisted activities they offer.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-25-2017, 10:04 PM
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I know many people with compression fractures who have healed well and continue to ride. Of course, the severity of the fracture plays a part, as does the reason (if your fracture is due to trauma and not osteoporosis, that's ideal). If it's osteporosis, then there's a greater risk of injury should you fall again, but a lot of people who ride have osteoporosis.

I've had two compression fractures-- one a few years ago due to a fall from a horse, and one currently healing (it's actually two vertebra, not just one) from a nasty fall on some stairs. My doctor has told me that once it's healed (3 months or so) I can continue with no restrictions. I would think the possible arthritis and other health conditions may be more of an indicator as to whether you can ride than the compression fracture.
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post #5 of 5 Old 11-26-2017, 05:33 AM
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Every case is different, and this is a decision you should be making with your doctor. I am assuming that the compression fractures are old injuries and healed to whatever extent possible, so you better understand than anyone what hurts, what doesn't and how much you can handle.

Having said that, I have 5 broken bones (not compression fractures - complete separations) in my back as well as arthritis and continue to "ride". I am still determining what my limitations are, as these can change on a daily or even hourly basis.

From experience, I can tell you that strengthening your core is about the best possible thing you can do for yourself, for riding as well as every day living. If there are no pilates classes near you, try some you tube pilates videos for lower back pain. They strengthen the muscles in the area and provide a sort of internal massage action. Highly recommendable.

Once you have an OK from your doctor (or not, because that would mean another CT scan and I never got one), discuss your options with a therapeutic riding program. Perhaps you are mostly interested in interacting with the horse, so a good long brushing, braiding etc. would be fun for you. This could be followed by just trying to mount, or sit in the saddle and caress/interact with the horse. There is nothing wrong with that. If you are able to work at a walk, fabulous! Arm movements could be added. Realistic goals should be initially made, however. Five minutes, ten max at the beginning, followed by lots of lovin' and treats for the horse. Additional 5 or 10 minute increments could be added in subsequent classes. I recommend these baby steps for you because they are what worked for me.

As far as driving goes, that also gets complicated. I would not physically be able to withstand much braking, but it is a valid option until you experiment with it yourself. Here, the size of the horse and cart would be key.

I wish you much luck and especially patience (which is something I am still working on myself!).
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