Original Research

The clinical effect of hippotherapy on gross motor function of children with Cerebral Palsy

K Litlle, N Nel, V Ortell, H van Wyk, M Badenhorst, Q Louw
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 69, No 2 | a321 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v69i2.321 | © 2013 K Litlle, N Nel, V Ortell, H van Wyk, M Badenhorst, Q Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2013 | Published: 11 December 2013

About the author(s)

K Litlle, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
N Nel, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
V Ortell, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
H van Wyk, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
M Badenhorst, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Q Louw, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

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Abstract

Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability affecting gross motor function (GMF ) in early childhood. Hippotherapy is a treatment approach aimed at improving GMF in children with CP. Several systematic reviews have been published showing an improvement in Dimension E of the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM ) after hippotherapy. However, these reviews failed to evaluate the clinical effect of hippotherapy in improving GMF in children with CP.

Objective: To critically appraise the evidence of hippotherapy to ascertain whether it is a clinically meaningful approach for children with CP.

Methodology: Five computerised bibliographic databases were searched. Predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria were set. The PEDro scale was used to assess the quality of the studies. A revised JBI Data extraction tool was used to extract data from the selected articles. Revman© Review Manager Software was used to create forest plots for comparisons of results.

Results: All studies used the GMFM as an outcome measure for gross motor function. The added benefit of hippotherapy is a minimum 1% and a maximum 7% increase on the GMFM scores. However, all 95% confidence intervals (CI ) around all the mean differences were insignificant.

Conclusion: The clinical effect of hippotherapy on the GMF of children with CP is small. Larger studies are required to provide evidence of the effect of hippotherapy within this population.


Keywords

Cerebra l pa lsy; Hipp otherap y; Therap eutic Hors eback Riding; Gr oss Motor Function

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