NBC Affiliate Contradicts MSNBC’s O’Donnell on Horse Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
Dante popularized the concept of concentric circles of hell. And while I’m no Dante, I’d nevertheless like to introduce my own variation, the “concentric circles of asshattery.” The outer circle is inhabited by leftists. That leftists are asshats is my opinion, to be sure. But, as someone with many old-school Depression-era Brooklyn leftists in my family, I can, and do, get along just fine with leftists who are able to get along with me. The next circle is made up of media leftists who take cheap-shot attacks against the family members of Republican candidates (because, of course, leftists lack the ability to take on conservatives in the arena of fact). This circle is populated entirely by people I despise.
But the worst circle, the innermost circle, is occupied by a leftist who attacks the family of a GOP candidate, and then – not satisfied with that level of asshattery – proceeds to ridicule a promising treatment for one of the most difficult and debilitating diseases known to man. In attempting his political hatchet-job, this asshat is more than willing to use his network airtime to discourage people with this disease from examining something that might actually improve their health.
This person’s desire to defeat a Republican is so ruthless, so soulless, that he is absolutely willing to take the chance that viewers with a terrible disease might be dissuaded from considering a beneficial treatment.
It simply doesn’t get any worse than that. That’s the inner-circle. That’s as foul as it gets.
And who is this inner-circle occupant of whom I speak? Why, it’s MSNBC leftist Lawrence O’Donnell, who recently used his show to attack the idea that horseback riding is a legitimate treatment for multiple sclerosis (because, you see, Ann Romney uses horseback therapy to treat her MS). He practically laughed at the very idea, dismissing it entirely.
He not only dismissed it as a course of treatment, he also ridiculed it as an indulgence of the “wildly rich.”
But (forgive the pun) hold your horses there, O’Donnell. Just sixteen days prior to your denial of “Dressage” as a therapy for multiple sclerosis, NBC ran a story praising the effects of Dressage on MS patients.
On June 3rd, an NBC affiliate in Colorado ran this story – “Horses as a Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis:”
“I’ve always loved horses. I’ve been riding since I was five, I come from a horse family,” says Patricia Labau of Gunnison, CO. Her life revolved around horses. She was competing, showing and jumping…Until one day when her life suddenly changed.
“I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk,” she says.
She learned some news she never expected.
“They diagnosed me with multiple sclerosis,” she explains.
“Sometimes you can get sick and go, ‘ugh,’ and I’m not one of those people. I went ‘ok, how can we fix this?’”
She used a form of riding called dressage as her therapy.
“Dressage is to riding as ballet is to dance. It’s a classical, very logical systematic approach,” says Alice West, announcer and trainer for Grand Valley Dressage Show. Dressage is a slower form of riding that takes incredible muscle control from the rider.
“It also involves very intense training on the part of the rider. The rider has to have a very supple and elastic seat so they don’t interfere with the horse’s motion and yet still be able to influence the horse,” West says.
And (Labau’s) not the only one who’s seen improvement in her condition. “My doctor said my recovery was miraculous, and it really has been,” she says.
Dressage riding has been used by many to improve symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Just by going to the website of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and searching the site for horseback therapy, you’ll get 263 results (if you search the word “horse”) and 160 results (if you search “horseback”) attesting to the value of horseback riding for MS patients.
Oh, and then there are the studies. Of course, leftists don’t care about studies, because they believe they already know everything there is to know. But all the same, we have:
The European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitational Medicine, in 2010, found that, “Given the paucity of beneficial therapies and lack of any known cures, referral to a therapeutic riding center should be made to patients afflicted with these severe neurological disabilities (MS).” (This is from an English-language summary of the study)
Here’s a Swedish study, paraphrased in English on the Aetna website:
In a single-subject experimental design study (n = 11), Hammer and associates (2005) examined whether therapeutic riding (TR, Sweden), also known as hippotherapy (HT, United States) may affect balance, gait, spasticity, functional strength, coordination, pain, self-rated level of muscle tension (SRLMT), activities of daily living (ADL), and health-related quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The intervention comprised 10 weekly TR/HT sessions of 30 mins each. The subjects were measured a maximum of 13 times. Physical tests were: the Berg balance scale, taking a figure of 8, the timed up and go test, 10-m walking, the modified Ashworth scale, the Index of Muscle Function, the Birgitta Lindmark motor assessment, part B, and individual measurements. Self-rated measures were: the visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, a scale for SRLMT, the Patient-Specific Functional Scale for ADL, and the SF-36. Data were analyzed visually, semi-statistically and considering clinical significance. Results showed improvement for 10 subjects in one or more of the variables, particularly balance, and some improvements were also seen in pain, muscle tension, and ADL. Changes in SF-36 were mostly positive, with an improvement in Role-Emotional seen in 8 patients. These investigators concluded that balance and Role-Emotional were the variables most often improved, but TR/HT appeared to benefit the subjects differently.
And here’s a 2011 Spanish study, paraphrased in English on the U.S. National Institutes of Health website:
Exercise therapy is an important part of symptomatic and supportive treatment in patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). According to the literature, equine-assisted therapies–such as therapeutic horseback riding (THR) and hippotherapy (HT)–are exercise therapies that can have positive physical effects on coordination, muscle tone, postural alignment, stiffness/flexibility, endurance and strength, correcting abnormal movement patterns and improving gait and balance.
Twenty-seven PwMS were included in the study. Patients were divided into two groups: 12 underwent THR and 15 traditional physiotherapy (for both groups, two series of 10 weekly sessions were performed). Before and after the study period, the following outcome measures were applied: Extended Disability Status Scale (EDSS), Barthel Index, Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA). In addition, patients of the THR group underwent a gait analysis to assess spatiotemporal gait parameters and ground reaction forces. Results: The THR group showed a significant improvement in POMA scores (p<0.005) and two gait parameters: stride time (p<0.04) and ground reaction forces (p<0.01). No statistically significant change was found in the control group.
The results of the study show that THR can improve balance and gait of ambulatory PwMS. Findings are preliminary, but promising and in line with the recent literature.
From a 2008 study presented in the journal Multiple Sclerosis:
Hippotherapy has positive effects on MS patients with respect to balance, spasticity, ability to walk and quality of life.
You can also check out this University of Memphis article detailing how the man who created the first-ever FDA-approved drug for the treatment of MS spends his time advocating horseback therapy for MS patients.
Now, I’m not a big fan of boycotts or “apology demandings,” but in this case, in his quest to destroy Mitt Romney. Lawrence O’Donnell gave out factually inaccurate medical information. That needs to be corrected, on air, on O’Donnell’s show. This goes beyond “I don’t like what he said; he oughta apologize.” This is far more important. If even one person is dissuaded from considering horseback therapy for MS because of O’Donnell’s inaccurate comments, that’s one too many. And if the heads of MSNBC believe that their crusade against Romney justifies giving out misleading medical advice on-air, well, all I can say is, welcome to the inner circle, jackasses.