Physical Effects of Hippotherapy on Balance and Gross Motor Function of a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Author(s): Faruq Ahmed, Md Abdullah Al Zubayer, Suria Akter, Mst Hosneara Yeasmin, Mohammad Nazmul Hasan, Zannatul Mawa, Asma Islam

Introduction: Hippotherapy is a therapeutic approach using the movement of the horse, administered by trained health professionals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of hippotherapy on balance and gross motor function of children with CP.

Case Description: A subject for this case study that was recruited from an inclusive school was 10 years old boy, with an athetoid type of cerebral palsy. He has a history of bilateral fluctuating muscle tone and tightness in both the upper limb and lower limb. The most common symptoms of the child were involuntary movement, tremors, poor posture, unsteadiness, twisting of the trunk, slow, writhing movements, abrupt movements, and language delay. His gross motor function was at Level II according to the GMFCS. During the trial, he didn't engage in any further forms of therapy or sports.

Design: This study employed a repeated-measures design with a pretest and post-test conducted using the Gross Motor Function Measure and Paediatric Balance Scale as outcome measures.

Intervention: The subject has participated in a 16 weeks hippo therapy program consisting of 30 minutes of riding 3 sessions per week. Stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises were included in each hippotherapy session.

Results: The results of the post-test demonstrated significant improvements in all the dimensions of the GMFM score. In PBS among 14 variables 8 variables had significant improvement.

Conclusion: The results of this case study showed that hippotherapy appears to have positive effects on gross motor function and balance in a child with CP.

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