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The Effect of Hippotherapy on Physical Function and Balance of Children with Cerebral Palsy

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posted on 2023-08-30, 18:52 authored by Flavia R. Bueno
Children with cerebral palsy (CP) experience deficits of fine and gross motor control and balance. Long-term physiotherapy helps decrease the impact of these multiple impairments improving their motor control, balance and postural alignment. Hippotherapy (HPOT) is a technique that uses the movement of the horse to translate sensory inputs to the human pelvis while mounted on the horse. This technique may improve motor impairments and balance in children with cerebral palsy after short- and long-term treatment. A systematic literature review identified the limitations of the current research evidence for the effectiveness of HPOT in those physical outcomes. A semi-structured survey guided the development of a research protocol development which reflected typical clinical perspectives and practice of HPOT treatment for children with CP. A study design was developed to evaluate HPOT efficacy on motor function, quality of life, spasticity and balance, recruiting a sample of 10 children with CP. Children with CP undertook 12 weeks of HPOT sessions (30 minutes, once a week) and were evaluated 3 times, prior to the treatment, after 6 weeks and after 12 weeks. Friedman’s test was used in the analysis of all outcomes, as that was found to be non-parametric. Results indicated that HPO treatment is able to improve significantly gross motor function, spasticity and quality of life of children with CP across all GMFCS levels. It also demonstrated the positive effect of spasticity on balance outcomes, indicating the therapy may be useful in training balance of children with CP. Finally, it is concluded that HPOT may be indicated as an alternative therapy to physiotherapy to improve physical outcomes of children with CP. Cohort studies with bigger samples are recommended to establish this results.



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