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Res Dev Disabil. 2012 Nov-Dec;33(6):2265-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Effect of a hippotherapy intervention program on static balance and strength in adolescents with intellectual disabilities.

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Laboratory of Neuromechanics, Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Serres, Greece.


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of a hippotherapy program on static balance and strength in adolescents with intellectual disability (ID). Nineteen adolescents with moderate ID were assigned either an experimental group (n=10) or a control group (n=9). The experimental group attended a 10-week hippotherapy program. To assess static balance, three tasks of increasing difficulty (Double-Leg Stance with opened or closed eyes, and One-Leg Stance with opened eyes) were performed while standing on an EPS pressure platform (Loran Engineering S.r.I., Bologna, Italy). The strength measurements consisted of three maximal isometric half-squats from the seating position (knee joint at 90°). The hippotherapy intervention program resulted in significant improvements in strength parameters, and on the more complex balance task (i.e. standing on one leg). In conclusion, this study provides evidence that hippotherapy can be used as an effective intervention for improving balance and strength in individuals with ID, and could thus influence functional activities and quality of life.

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