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Pediatric Physical Therapy:
Section Information: Abstracts of Platform and Poster Presentations for the 2005 Combined Sections Meeting: Poster Presentations

THE EFFECTS OF THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING ON MOTOR FUNCTION IN CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY

Diffenbaugh, N A.; Jacoby, L M.; Olinger, A M.; Wrench, B M.; Pascal, M

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Physical Therapy, College Misericordia, Dallas, PA, USA

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on the gross motor function of children with cerebral palsy.

NUMBER OF SUBJECTS: Twelve subjects participated in the study. They ranged in age from 4 years to 22 years (mean age 12 years, 8 months). All subjects had a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and were participating in a therapeutic horseback riding program.

MATERIALS/METHODS: The subjects were tested using the 66-item Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM-66). Testing occurred at the beginning, middle (4 months), and end of the 8-month riding season. Each testing session was performed immediately following a 30-minute therapeutic riding session.

RESULTS: A one-way ANOVA and a Greenhouse Geisser within-subjects analysis showed a statistically significant difference (P < 0.01) in GMFM-66 scores. A post-hoc Bonferroni analysis revealed the significant difference occurred between the first and middle testing sessions only. The mean difference in GMFM-66 scores between the first and second sessions was 3.8 points. The mean difference between the second and third session scores was 1.2 points. Several subjects demonstrated common areas of improvement including the ability to perform knee-walking, and to walk up and down four steps alternating feet and without the use of a handrail.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that therapeutic horseback riding may have a positive effect on motor function in children with cerebral palsy. In this study, the greatest improvements in gross motor function occurred during the first four months of the intervention.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Therapeutic horseback riding may be a useful adjunct to traditional physical therapy. Further research is needed to determine the best frequency and duration for this intervention.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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