Horseriding therapy and posture in children with CP
Children with cerebral palsy (CP) often undergo years of therapy in an attempt to normalise muscle tone and improve posture. It can be challenging for physiotherapists to sustain the children's interest in the therapy.
With therapeutic riding, children can be placed in specific postures on the horse to get a specific response. Furthermore, the warmth of the horse combined with the rhythmical movement of walking is thought to be useful in reducing high muscle tone and promoting relaxation.
This study aimed to investigate the postural changes in children with spastic cerebral palsy after participation in a therapeutic riding program.
Eleven children with CP were assessed twice by 3 independent physiotherapists on their posture to find the baseline. They then underwent a 10-week therapeutic riding program where they rode in groups of 3 twice a week. The program was carefully structured with specific therapeutic activities to facilitate achievement of specific therapeutic goals. The children were reassessed on their posture after the 10-week period.
The results show significant improvement with regard to posture after the therapeutic riding therapy. These include, but are not limited to, decreased hyperextension of the neck, decreased postural scoliosis, and improved pelvic alignment.
Furthermore, improvements are also found in muscle tone and balance as evidenced by improvement of functional skills.
Expert opinion by Science-Equine.com
The result show that therapeutic riding could be used to improve posture in children with CP. However, the article also states that the results were limited, as some children were scared of horses.
Given that this study was published in 1988, it is possible that the technique used in this article is outdated.
> From: Bertoti, Phys Ther 68 (1988) 1505-1512. All rights reserved to the American Physical Therapy Association Inc. Click here for the online summary.