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J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Sep;16(9):1003-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0043.

The effects of a 5-week therapeutic horseback riding program on gross motor function in a child with cerebral palsy: a case study.

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Physical Therapy Department, Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, WV, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine the outcome of a short-term therapeutic horseback riding intervention on the gross motor function in a child with cerebral palsy.


This study employed a repeated-measures design with a pretest, a post-test, and a post post-test conducted 5 weeks apart using the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) as an outcome measure. The three sets of test scores from the GMFM were compared upon completion of the intervention.


The subject participated in a 5-week therapeutic horseback riding program consisting of 1 hour of riding per week. Each riding session consisted of stretching, strengthening, and balance activities. The child's level of motor function was tested prior to the intervention, upon completion of the intervention, and 5 weeks postintervention. The GMFM, a criterion-referenced observational measure designed to measure change in the gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy, was chosen as the assessment tool.


Upon completion of the 5-week intervention, the child was observed to have improved scores on the GMFM in two of the five dimensions measured and scored for a total of eight items. The post post-test was completed 5 weeks after the final riding session and the results demonstrated successful maintenance of the improved scores in seven of eight items.


The result of this case study suggest that 5 weeks of therapeutic riding are sufficient to produce positive changes in the gross motor function of a child with cerebral palsy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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