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Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2012 Aug;32(3):229-42. doi: 10.3109/01942638.2011.619251. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Therapeutic effects of horseback riding therapy on gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy: a systematic review.

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  • 1Division of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Medical Professions, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.



This systematic review examined the efficacy of hippotherapy or therapeutic horseback riding (THR) on motor outcomes in children with cerebral palsy (CP).


Databases were searched for clinical trials of hippotherapy or THR for children with CP.


Nine articles were included in this review. Although the current level of evidence is weak, our synthesis found that children with spastic CP, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels I-III, aged 4 years and above are likely to have significant improvements on gross motor function as a result of hippotherapy and THR. Evidence indicates that 45-min sessions, once weekly for 8-10 weeks, result in significant effects.


The current literature on hippotherapy and THR is limited. Large randomized controlled trials using specified protocols are needed to more conclusively determine the effects on children with CP. From the current evidence, it appears that hippotherapy and THR have positive effects on gross motor function in children with CP.

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