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Dev Med Child Neurol. 1998 Nov;40(11):754-62.

Effect of an equine-movement therapy program on gait, energy expenditure, and motor function in children with spastic cerebral palsy: a pilot study.

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Therapeutic Riding of Tucson, AZ, USA.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of an 8-week program of hippotherapy on energy expenditure during walking; on the gait dimensions of stride length, velocity, and cadence; and on performance on the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) in five children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP). A repeated-measures within-subjects design was used consisting of two baseline measurements taken 8 weeks apart, followed by an 8-week intervention period, then a posttest. After hippotherapy, all five children showed a significant decrease (X2(r)=7.6, P<0.05) in energy expenditure during walking and a significant increase (X2(r)=7.6, P<0.05) in scores on Dimension E (Walking, Running, and Jumping) of the GMFM. A trend toward increased stride length and decreased cadence was observed. This study suggests that hippotherapy may improve energy expenditure during walking and gross motor function in children with CP.

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