McGibbon NH, Benda W, Duncan BR, Silkwood-Sherer D. Immediate and long-term effects of hippotherapy on symmetry of adductor muscle activity and functional ability in children with spastic cerebral palsy. Objectives: To investigate the immediate effects of 10 minutes of hippotherapy, compared with 10 minutes of barrel-sitting, on symmetry of adductor muscle activity during walking in children with cerebral palsy (CP) (phase I). To investigate the long-term effects of 12 weeks of hippotherapy on adductor activity, gross motor function, and self-concept (phase II). Design: Pretest/posttest randomized controlled trial plus clinical follow-up. Setting: Outpatient therapy center. Participants: Children with spastic CP (phase I: n=47; phase II: n=6). Interventions: Phase I: 10 minutes of hippotherapy or 10 minutes of barrel-sitting; phase II: 12 weekly hippotherapy sessions. Main Outcome Measures: Phases I and II: adductor muscle activity measured by surface electromyography. Phase II: gross motor function and self-perception profiles. Results: Phase I: hippotherapy significantly improved adductor muscle asymmetry (P<.001; d=1.32). Effects of barrel-sitting were not significant (P>.05; d=.10). Phase II: after 12 weeks of hippotherapy, testing in several functional domains showed improvements over baseline that were sustained for 12 weeks posttreatment. Conclusions: Hippotherapy can improve adductor muscle symmetry during walking and can also improve other functional motor skills.
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscle spasticity