Does horseback riding therapy or therapist‐directed hippotherapy rehabilitate children with cerebral palsy?

  title={Does horseback riding therapy or therapist‐directed hippotherapy rehabilitate children with cerebral palsy?},
  author={John A. Sterba},
  journal={Developmental Medicine \& Child Neurology},
  • J. A. Sterba
  • Published 21 December 2006
  • Medicine, Psychology
  • Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Quantitative (not qualitative) studies were sought investigating whether horseback riding used as therapy improves gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Eleven published studies on instructor‐directed, recreational horseback riding therapy (HBRT) and licensed‐therapist‐directed hippotherapy were identified, reviewed, and summarized for research design, methodological quality, therapy regimen, internal/external validity, results, and authors’conclusions. Methodological… 
Therapeutic Effects of Horseback Riding Therapy on Gross Motor Function in Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Systematic Review
Although the current level of evidence is weak, a 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.
Hippotherapy and THR improve GMFM and posture in children with CP, however, with research lacking matched comparison studies, randomisation and small sample sizes, justification for the use of this technique is still limited.
Therapeutic Effects of Horseback Riding Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Most of the studies showed a trend toward a beneficial effect of therapeutic riding and hippotherapy on balance and gross motor function, and the meta-analysis showed improvement in both the Berg Balance Scale and the Gross Motor Function Measure.
Effects of horse riding simulator on sitting motor function in children with spastic cerebral palsy.
It was concluded that HRS is effective in improving the sitting motor function in children with spastic diplegia and the continuous provision of HRS in longer duration provide more benefits than the shorter duration.
The Short-term Effects of Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Spasticity in Children With Cerebral Palsy: A Meta-analysis
This is the first meta-analysis to confirm that hippotherapy or THR can reduce lower-limb muscle spasticity in children with CP in the short term, but long-term effects on function still require further studies.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of equine assisted activities and therapies on gross motor outcome in children with cerebral palsy
A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and observational studies of hippotherapy and therapeutic horseback riding for children with cerebral palsy found insufficient evidence to support the claim that long-term TR or HPOT provide a significant benefit to children with spastic CP.
Hippotherapy in Children with Developmental Delays: Physical Function and Psychological Benefits
Hippotherapy, or horse therapy, is an innovative form of physical therapy that involves the use of a horse as a therapeutic tool in order to effectively challenge a rider’s core muscles. The
Meta-Analysis on the Effect of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Children with Developmental Disabilities and Neural Patients
The effect size by outcome was observed to be the effective for children with developmental disabilities and neural patients and the horseback riding provided the positive effects of balance, muscle activities, ADL, equivalance, GMFM, gait, emotion.
Physical therapy treatments incorporating equine movement: a pilot study exploring interactions between children with cerebral palsy and the horse
The increased synchronization between horse and the mounted participant suggests that physical therapy utilizing equine movement is a viable treatment tool to enhance functional mobility.


A study of therapeutic effects of horseback riding for children with cerebral palsy.
Major findings from a study of the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding for children with cerebral palsy indicate a need for further research and for finding or developing instruments that are able to capture and reveal meaningful changes in physical and psychosocial status.
The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Children With Spastic Cerebral Palsy
It is concluded that THR may be beneficial for some children with spastic cerebral palsy because some of the children improved significantly in the GMFM E (walk/run/jump) score and the total score.
Horseback riding in children with cerebral palsy: effect on gross motor function.
The effects of recreational horseback riding therapy (HBRT) on gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy were determined in a blinded study using the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM).
Trunk Postural Reactions in Children with and Without Cerebral Palsy During Therapeutic Horseback Riding
One of the benefits of horseback riding for children with diplegic CP seems to be the facilitation of normal equilibrium reactions in response to the pelvic movement of the horse, however, in the case of riders with quadriplegic CP, normalilibrium reactions were elicited infrequently.
Effect of therapeutic horseback riding on posture in children with cerebral palsy.
  • D. Bertoti
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Physical therapy
  • 1988
A statistically significant difference was found between the three test intervals with significant improvement occurring during the period of therapeutic riding, and clinical improvements were also noted in muscle tone and balance as evidenced by improved functional skills.
The Effect of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Gross Motor Function and Gait Speed in Children Who Are Developmentally Delayed
It is indicated that therapeutic riding may lead to improvement in gross motor function in developmentally delayed children and that these improvements remain once therapeutic riding ceases.
‘Transient dystonic toe‐walking: differentiation from cerebral palsy and a rare explanation for some unexplained cases of idiopathic toe‐walking’
  • D. Scrutton
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Developmental medicine and child neurology
  • 2007
7. Winchester P, Kendall K, Peters H, Sears N, Winkley T. (2002) The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on gross motor function and gait speed in children who are developmentally delayed. Phys
Effect of an equine‐movement therapy program on gait, energy expenditure, and motor function in children with spastic cerebral palsy: a pilot study
It is suggested that hippotherapy may improve energy expenditure during walking and gross motor function in children with CP.
Therapeutic horseback riding:.
A need for further research into both the physical and psychosocial areas with both children and adults is indicated and there is a need for research which would improve the methodological rigor, homogeneity of populations, sample size, and use of standardized measurement instruments.
Pilot Study of Novel Test Instrumentation to Evaluate Therapeutic Horseback Riding
Results from this pilot study appeared to support the use of the apparatus in that field setting and clinical impressions of therapists and parents suggested concomitant progress in characteristics such as self-confidence and interaction with others.