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Tara's Story

Four-year-old Tara Ingerson from Brisbane QLD was born missing a fundamental part of her brain, the thick band of nerves called the corpus callosum, connecting the two hemispheres. The corpus callosum is the super highway that connects the two different sides of the brain i.e. 200 million nerve cells connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it allows you to control, balance and coordination and is critical for simple things like walking or catching a ball.

Tara

A lot of the children with Agenesis of the corpus callosum’ (ACC) also have autism spectrum disorders, behavioural problems and many suffer from epileptic seizures. Kim Peak the ‘Rain Man’ from the movie of the same name has ACC; he has an amazing memory and mastery of history facts. In spite of those amazing skills he can't even get himself dressed in the morning, he can't make himself breakfast and couldn't even take a bus to get himself to a job. He travels worldwide with his father showing his amazing gift for memorizing facts.

Tara

Tara & Wendy

Tara attends Arundel Park, Riding for Disabled Inc for Hippotherapy treatment sessions with a registered physiotherapist, a horse handler, 2 side walkers and Daisy the horse. ‘Hippotherapy’ comes from the Greek word hippos, meaning horse; the term literally means “treatment with the help of a horse” and refers to the horse’s movement as a treatment tool to improve neuromuscular function.

“The horse's movement puts stimulus up through Tara’s body. Tara’s body reacts as though she is walking so she is working on all the muscles that she needs to use when she's walking.

I can treat all sorts of kids that don't respond to a lot of clinical treatment... with this therapy, the horse is doing the treatment, basically, and the kids are there having fun and not even knowing that they're working.

At present, Tara can not walk and can't weight-bear without specialised equipment, she needs constant support. Before Tara started with hippotherapy she could barely hold her head up, certainly not sit up by herself, now she can.

Daisy

Daisy at work

“Using the movement of the horse to relax her muscles, Tara can stretch her legs down, sit up nice and tall and when she’s ready, tell Daisy to go! Getting up on the horses back on her hands and knees Tara is developing her shoulder girdle muscles so she can actually get up on the floor and crawl at home. Each week she gets better and better and every week we're doing something new.”

When you see the results you just know it works.”
Wendy Mungomery, Physiotherapist

Today’s medicine and science increasingly understands the brain to be a much more plastic organ than originally thought. With the right stimulation and training the brain can adapt to missing parts, build new connections to missing or damaged parts allowing them to do things that were originally thought to be impossible for them.

At present there is not enough support for children like Tara who have multiple disabilities. If these children are helped while they're young then we know the outcome for these children is much better, this means that things are also far better as they increase in age. Sadly very few suitable and proven ‘early intervention programs’ for children with multiple disabilities really exist in any true form, certainly one with such a well proven record worldwide.

Riding for the Disabled provides early intervention programs for these children through ‘hippotherapy’. If you would like to support the work of RDA and its vital programs please contact us on 03 9731 7388; visit your local centre or donate online.

This article was adapted from ‘All in the Mind’ ABC Radio National, Natasha Mitchell 2008 Summer Season http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2009/2435760.htm