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Faculty Spotlight: Sarah Pictor

Sarah Pictor in lab with students

Sarah Pictor

"I teach an Introduction to Hippotherapy elective course which is always filled and continues to be one of the highlights of my teaching."

I chose to enter the field of physical therapy early on. While I was living on Long Island, a family moved in next door. The eldest daughter needed assistance with daily activities due to the impairments that she experienced with spina bifida (myelomeningocele). I spent many hours with her and her three siblings, witnessing what she went through in therapy. Those experiences helped me make my decision to become a pediatric PT.

Today, as a Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist, I teach the pediatric content of D'Youville's physical therapy curriculum - courses involving normal human development and evaluation and treatment for the pediatric population with disabilities.  

Hippotherapy (using the movement of a horse in therapy)

Hippotherapy is one of my specialty areas of interest. It's a treatment approach implemented by physical, occupational and speech/language therapists to improve function for individuals with neuromotor impairments. It should not be confused with therapeutic/adapted riding, which are recreational lessons.

The D'Youville hippotherapy program began in 2008. Since its establishment, many D'Youville students have volunteered and over 40 children have experienced the benefits of therapy. I teach an Introduction to Hippotherapy elective course which is always filled and continues to be one of the highlights of my teaching. 

The most memorable moments for me come when D'Youville students taking the course get on the horse for the first time and exclaim something to the effect of "Wow! This is really awesome." Or when those who are experienced riders and are now looking at the movement of the horse through clinical eyes and say, "I will never underestimate the work being done on the horse."

Of course, the memorable moments with the children in hippotherapy are the laughter and grins because the time on the horse for them is all about fun! When the parents tell me it is the most valuable therapy their child has received, I remember that moment as well.