When horses become real caregivers

FIGARO DEMAIN – Equiphoria is a care center that relies on handpicked equines to care for people with multiple trauma, multiple disabilities or autism. Building on the success of the method, more and more mutuals are reimbursing healthcare, and the company intends to open new centers.

An advertising campaign that has horse! Winner of the competition, the company Equiphoria is displayed in the metro with gigantic panels that challenge. The shadow cast by a wheelchair turns into a robust and healthy horse… Why such an image? Because the social and solidarity enterprise based in a small village of 2000 inhabitants in La Canourgue, in Lozère, has developed an innovative therapy by the horse. , autistic disorders or rare diseases.

” To listen –

Directly inspired by what is done in the United States, Hélène Viruega, trained in Montana with the Indians, created the company in 2012. “We are not an equestrian center but a full-fledged care institute. We do not offer horseback riding but we really take care, ”explains the one who has learned to whisper in the ears of horses to train them. The structure has a multidisciplinary team of professionals – psychologists, physiotherapist, horse riding instructors – where each with their own specialty treats sometimes severe disabilities.

The treatment sessions are prescribed by the attending physicians. The care is, in part or at 100%, reimbursed by the mutual funds. “We have partnerships with three social protection groups and three major mutuals, such as Malakoff Mederic, which reimburse 100% or 80% for the treatment protocol. In total, 60% of patients are fully reimbursed, ”says Hélène Viruega, who works with her husband Érik Bogros.

No public subsidies and “correct but not excessive” salaries

In addition, Equiphoria is a company in the social and solidarity economy sector. It does not benefit from public subsidies but must be profitable to continue to exist. It does not make a profit and pays “correct but not disproportionate” wages to its 12 employees, says Hélène Viruega. The wage gap between employees, from the specialist doctor to the groom who cleans the stables, remains contained. The best paid employee receives a salary three times higher than the lowest paid, against nearly 17 times on average in traditional companies.

With this specific organization, Equiphoria obtains results. “We see successes every day and the more I am told that there is nothing more to do, the more I am motivated to find solutions!”, Assures Hélène Viruega. The entrepreneur cites the example of a severely disabled young man after a car accident and head trauma. Disabled for ten years, the man could no longer move and after six two-week sessions, he was able to take his first steps and regain autonomy. “Even after a head trauma, there are possibilities to wake up the brain, all is not turned off”, launches the person in charge who has 12 horses in her stable. “The horse is capable of stimulating the body and the brain with an adapted rhythm and he has”, adds the one who carefully selects his equines.

To advance knowledge on the subject, the couple created a research laboratory and works in concert with researchers, in particular researchers from the Greater Montpellier cancer center. Three scientific publications have already emerged. Building on its success, Equiphoria intends to open new care centers. Normandy, land of the horse, and the Paris region are naturally places where the couple want to anchor.

Le Figaro

Society, health, environment, education, energy


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