Canadian Govt backs equine-assisted therapy studies

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Funding for two studies into the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy in helping war veterans with mental health issues will be provided by the Canadian Government.

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole announced the $C275,000 in funding on Monday.

The Canadian Institute of Military and Veteran Health Research will receive $C250,000 to conduct an equine-assisted intervention study. Another group, Can Praxis, will get $C25,000 to continue its equine research, building on its own 2013 equine therapy pilot study.

Both studies will assist in establishing an evidence base on the use of equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions.

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research engages existing academic research resources and encourages new research, research capacity and effective knowledge transfer.

Can Praxis is a not-for-profit organization that uses equine-assisted learning to support Veterans with mental health conditions, and their spouses.

O’Toole said the Canadian Government was committed to exploring treatment and therapy options for veterans with operational stress injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Research studies like these help us understand the treatment better to determine when and where equine therapy could be used as part of a treatment regime for a veteran,” she says.

The director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, Dr Alice Aiken, said, ultimately, the research would provide information on the effectiveness of animal-assisted intervention for symptom management, and guidance as to its appropriateness for veteran’s mental health treatment.

“As always, CIMVHR is committed to working with Veterans to identify innovative, evidence-based therapies to help them with all of their health needs.”

Can Praxis spokesman Steve Critchley said the grant would enable the group to continue its work.

“Our veterans and their families deserve the best assistance possible in understanding and overcoming the conflict and crisis PTSD will introduce into their lives, and today is another step forward in making that a reality,” he said.

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