Discover what's going on in equine-assisted activities and therapies from PATH Intl. CEO Kathy Alm






Kathy Alm

In the Field

A Quarterly Communication From

PATH Intl. CEO Kathy Alm


As I speak with PATH Intl. members near and far, meet with industry partners and travel around the country representing the association, my mind more often than not is filled with information I think the PATH Intl. membership would be interested to learn. In an effort to keep members updated on news or nuggets of knowledge I pick up along the way, this first quarterly update and those following will be designed to provide short, meaningful pieces of information to keep you apprised of industry happenings, "In the Field."

Kathy Alm sig


Aging and the Future of EAAT


A hot topic of conversation among leaders continues to be the aging of the world's population. The equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) industry mirrors this from a provider perspective as the latest figures indicate that almost 50% of our members are baby boomers - currently between the ages of 51 and 69. When this issue was first raised, the call to action was to make sure we are inviting and welcoming the next generations into this field and that we remain dedicated to the quest for sustainability and living wage jobs. According to the trending of these figures, we are having some success. In 2012, millennials, age 20 - 32, made up just fewer than 14%. They are now almost 21% of our membership. It is important to note that our work is not done. We need to maintain a focus on bringing and keeping younger generations into this field and providing an opportunity to create a sustained living. Baby boomers have done a tremendous job in developing and leading. We need to encourage all of the following generations to build on that strong foundation. As Sheryl Connell, a respected futurist said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

Thoughts? Join in the discussion on Facebook and LinkedIn.


ASD and Therapeutic Riding Trial Results


As both a former center director and the current CEO of PATH Intl., I am thrilled to share the results of the first large-scale, randomized, controlled trial demonstrating the efficacy of therapeutic riding for the population with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I want to thank Dr. Robin Gabriels for leading the research team that completed this 4-year NIH/NICHD-funded study. I know that more and more families and supporters are asking for data-driven results that demonstrate a positive outcome with various equine-assisted activities and therapies. As our industry continues to grow, it is imperative that we are able to support our claims with proven, tested results. This study, specific to therapeutic/adaptive riding, has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry with an accompanying review by L. Eugene Arnold, MD, Med. Findings include significant reductions in irritability and hyperactivity behaviors, significant improvements in social communication behaviors and a significant increase in the number of new and total words spoken. 

As stated by L. Eugene Arnold, "We have few evidence-based treatments for autism. Further, those that exist are not universally effective and are laborious and expensive or risky. We need good studies of safer, easier, and cost-effective treatments to fill the therapeutic gaps. In the absence of evidence, desperate parents are at the mercy of unsubstantiated claims and hopes. The report by Gabriels et al. is a welcome addition to the evidence base..." 

Dr. Gabriels and her research team intend to continue replicating this research in order to expand and build on the findings to date. The more data we can compile, the more credibility we can continue to build, proving what all of us in the field know from experience: EAAT changes lives.

The value of this type of research to your center is immeasurable. Who might be interested? Potential funders, medical and health and wellness professionals in your community, parents of potential and current participants, center staff, etc. Dr. Gabriels was interviewed regarding the findings by Dr. Craigan Usher, contributing editor at JAACAP. We hope you'll find the research, review and interview useful. 



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