Making Strides Beyond Therapy

Everyday True Friends Therapy and Adaptive Riding (formerly known as True Strides) provides individuals with the opportunity to enhance their lives. Using specialty therapy programs like hippotherapy, therapeutic riding and myofascial massage the Therapy and Adaptive Riding staff are truly making an impact.

Changing lives for individuals like Eli Hofmeister of Maple Lake. For a couple of hours each week Eli is able to spend a few moments enjoying the experience of riding a horse, instead of focusing solely on her disease. At the age of 13 Eli was diagnosed with juvenile onset of Huntington’s Chorea. She is one of approximately 40 individuals nationwide with the early onset of this disease.

She came to Therapy and Adaptive Riding in October 2016 and became a weekly rider in the hippotherapy program. In a recent interview with the Citizen Tribune in Clearwater, Eli’s mother Camille Tulenchik said “Coming to [Therapy and Adaptive Riding] has made a huge difference.”

“Eli is able to walk better, is more confident and her mood had improved,” said Tulenchik. “She loves it, she lives for it.”

Making Strides

Eli’s disease is a genetic neurodevelopmental disease that affects a person’s movement, emotions and thinking. It usually strikes adults and only 5-10% of the population develop symptoms at a young age. The symptoms worsen over time with tight muscles and a decrease in range of motion, strength, and stamina.

Upon arriving at Therapy and Adaptive Riding Eli was experiencing a variety of symptoms including a lack of range of motion in her arms, tightness in her back, and her gait was out of sync. Since riding at Therapy and Adaptive Riding and working with Occupational Therapist Shari Mangas and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Kim Anderson, Eli has shown dramatic improvements, even noted by her physician.

Mangas and Anderson have implemented a program of myofascial release, stretching, and horseback riding which has changed Eli’s quality of life. Eli is able to raise her arms and completes full arm circles. Her gait has improved and she is able to move more efficiently while walking.

“Another key improvement is Eli’s ability to move through space looking up and out at her environment instead of at her feet,” said Mangas. “This demonstrates that neurological changes have occurred allowing for improved balance and equilibrium reactions.”

Beyond Therapy

With therapy being the focus of most of her visits, Eli wanted to get to know the horses a bit more. With her improved functionality and love of horses, Eli is now volunteering at Therapy and Adaptive Riding. Each week after her lesson, she stays a bit longer to enjoy the horses and give back to the other children who are a part of the program. “Eli’s kind spirit and never-ending smiles keep our staff energized and in wonderful spirits,” said Mangas. “She is a true delight.”

Learn more about Therapy and Adaptive Riding here.

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