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Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(4):279-87. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.605919. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Effect of equestrian therapy and onotherapy in physical and psycho-social performances of adults with intellectual disability: a preliminary study of evaluation tools based on the ICF classification.

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Rehabilitation Centre Villa Buon Respiro, Viterbo, Italy.



To assess the effects of equestrian rehabilitation (ER) and onotherapy (Ono) on physical and psycho-social performances of subjects affected by intellectual disability (ID), and to develop a measurement tool based on the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health-Children and Youth (ICF-CY).


A tool based on the ICF-CY classification was designed to evaluate subjects undergoing equine rehabilitation within a bio-psychosocial approach. A simplified version of this evaluation form was developed for the equestrian instructors. The agreement between the two tools was evaluated with the Cohen's κ coefficient. Treatment benefits were evaluated in the different areas covered by the evaluation tool.


A general improvement in the autonomy and social integration of subjects with ID undergoing horse and donkey therapy was observed. ER and Ono produced maximum benefits respectively at six and 3 months in the large majority of patients, and benefits persisted over time. Although the agreement between the two tools proposed was rather slight, both evaluation groups measured similar improvements in subjects undergoing equine rehabilitation.


There is an improvement in autonomy and social integration for subjects with ID, undergoing horse and donkey therapy. Ono emerged as a suitable and effective alternative to equestrian therapy. The simplified measurement tool proved to be sensitive and easy to apply, even if further improvements will be necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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