Authors of a systematic review that examined the efficacy of hippotherapy or therapeutic horseback riding (THR) on motor outcomes in children with cerebral palsy (CP) report in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics that it appears the interventions have positive effects on gross motor function. However, they add, 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.
The researchers searched databases for clinical trials of hippotherapy or THR for children with CP. Nine articles were included in the review. Although the current level of evidence is weak, the authors 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-minute sessions, once weekly for 8-10 weeks, result in significant effects.