To identify the physical and psychosocial effects of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAATs) on children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) from the perspective of the children and their parents.
The families of all eligible children with SMA, who reported participation in EAAT, from a Western metropolitan academic center were contacted and invited to participate. This study implemented qualitative, semistructured interviews of children with SMA and their parents.
Three themes emerged from the qualitative content analysis: physical/psychosocial benefits; relationship development with the horses, instructors, and children; and barriers to continued EAAT engagement.
The data suggest that the overall EAAT experience was a source of enjoyment, self-confidence, and normalcy for the children with SMA. The results of this study provide preliminary support for the use of EAAT among children with SMA.