Hippotherapy is often carried out for the rehabilitation of children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), with the horse riding at a walking pace. This study aimed to explore the immediate effects of a hippotherapy protocol using a walk-trot pace on spatio-temporal gait parameters and muscle tone in children with Bilateral Spastic CP (BS-CP). Ten children diagnosed with BS-CP and 10 healthy aged-matched children (reference group) took part in this study. The children with BS-CP underwent two sessions of hippotherapy for one week of washout between them. Two protocols (lasting 30 min) were applied on separate days: Protocol 1: the horse's pace was a walking pace; and Protocol 2: the horse's pace was a walk-trot pace. Children from the reference group were not subjected to treatment. A wireless inertial measurement unit measured gait spatio-temporal parameters before and after each session. The Modified Ashworth Scale was applied for muscle tone measurement of hip adductors. The participants underwent the gait assessment on a path with surface irregularities (ecological context). The comparisons between BS-CP and the reference group found differences in all spatio-temporal parameters, except for gait velocity. Within-group analysis of children with BS-CP showed that the swing phase did not change after the walk pace and after the walk-trot pace. The percentage of rolling phase and double support improved after the walk-trot. The spasticity of the hip adductors was significantly reduced as an immediate result of both protocols, but this decrease was more evident after the walk-trot. The walk-trot protocol is feasible and is able to induce an immediate effect that improves the gait spatio-temporal parameters and the hip adductors spasticity.
- Ecological evaluation
- Equine-assisted therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology