Can Individuals with Down Syndrome Benefit from Hippotherapy? An Exploratory Study on Gait and Balance

Simona Portaro, Alberto Cacciola, Antonino Naro, Filippo Cavallaro, Gaetano Gemelli, Barbara Aliberti, Rosaria De Luca, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò, Demetrio Milardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: To evaluate whether a hippotherapy protocol may influence balance and gait in patients with Down Syndrome (DS). Methods: Fifteen male patients affected by DS underwent a 6-month hippotherapy protocol. Stabilometric, baropodometric, and gait assessments were performed at baseline (T0) and at the end of the treatment (T1). Results: At baseline, DS patients showed a low bilateral hind foot pressure percentage at the baropodometric analysis, a high center of pressure area in the closed-eye condition, a high center of pressure sway in open- and closed-eyes recordings, a high medio-lateral and antero-posterior velocity oscillations in the closed eye condition, and a reduced step-length and velocity. After the 6-month, hippotherapy protocol, DS patients had a significant bilateral higher hindfoot pressure percentage. The stabilometric analysis revealed a lower center of pressure area in the closed-eye condition, and a significantly reduced center of pressure sway in open- and closed-eyes recordings. In addition, DS patients showed lower medio-lateral and antero-posterior velocity oscillations in the closed eye condition. Finally, hippotherapy significantly improved step length and velocity. Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates that hippotherapy determines functional improvement in gait speed, width, bilateral symmetry, and balance in DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Neurorehabilitation
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 25 2019

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