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Effect of Hippotherapy on Perceived Self-competence and Participation in a Child With Cerebral Palsy

Frank, Alana PT, DPT; McCloskey, Sandra PT, HPCS; Dole, Robin L. PT, DPT, EdD, PCS

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318227caac
Case Report

This case report highlights changes in self-competence and social acceptance, along with changes in functional skills, after an 8-week program of hippotherapy. A 6-year-old girl with mild ataxic cerebral palsy, level I Gross Motor Functional Classification System, exhibited typical impairments in body systems and functions that affected her participation in age-appropriate functional and leisure activities. The child's performance on the Gross Motor Function Measure-66, the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument, and the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children were examined at baseline, after the 8-week intervention, and at a 2-month follow-up session. Data at 8 weeks demonstrated positive changes in all areas, with improvements continuing for 2 months after the program's completion. Hippotherapy not only may be an effective intervention to improve functional gross motor development but also may affect perceived self-competence and social acceptance, which may lead to increases in participation for children with mild cerebral palsy.

The findings of this case report indicate that integrating hippotherapy into physical therapy intervention appeared to increase this child's self-competence and participation in activities with family and friends.

Quest Therapeutic Services, Inc. (Dr Frank and Ms McCloskey), West Chester, Pennsylvania; Institute for Physical Therapy Education, Widener University (Dr Dole), Chester, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Robin L. Dole, PT, DPT, Institute for Physical Therapy Education, Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.