Gastonia ranch offers a 'bit of hope' for trauma patients

A horse farm is helping at risk youth overcome mental health issues.

GASTONIA, N.C. -- A local ranch is pairing advanced technology with horses to help its young clients recover from trauma and they say the data shows their sessions are helping their clients bring about serious change. 

The Bit of Hope Ranch in Gastonia puts portable brain scans on their clients during exercises. 

"I love integrating technology with mental health," said Briana Perkins with Bit of Hope Ranch. "We use a portable brain scan, an EEG machine, that we put on people's heads so they can walk around the property."

Perkins said 80 percent of the ranch's therapy is actually done on the ground, while other portions take place up in the saddle. All of Briana's clients have suffered some sort of trauma, such as abuse or poverty. 

"When you have someone who is traumatized, they're not integrating the left and right sides of their brain, and what happens when you sit on a horse is you physically get this left and right movement," Perkins explained. 

Perkins can watch the results in real-time on her laptop, and from there, modify the exercises accordingly for each child. 

"That's ultimately where the growth comes from," she said. 

Perkins says she's watched dozens of children interact with the horses at the ranch while wearing the EEG, and that all of those kids have exhibited signs of improvement and have shown real behavioral changes for the better. 

"We're hoping as we go forward, that we're going to be able to become a leading research institute for equine assisted psychotherapy and really try to gather that brain-body connection," Perkins said. 

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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