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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2010 September;46(3):347-53

Copyright © 2010 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Does hippotherapy improve balance in persons with multiple sclerosis: a systematic review

Bronson C., Brewerton K., Ong J., Palanca C., Sullivan S. J.

School of Physiotherapy, Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago,Dunedin, New Zealand


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AIM: Multiple sclerosis (MS) leads to changes in balance due to the breakdown of a number of neurological processes. Hippotherapy utilizes the movement of the horse to provide sensory feedback and has been used as a therapeutic intervention for different neurological conditions. Little is known about the effects of hippotherapy in MS. The purpose of this study is to systematically review and examine the evidence for hippotherapy as an intervention to improve balance in persons with MS.
METHODS: Major electronic databases were searched for articles relating to hippotherapy, MS and balance. Only full length articles published in peer reviewed journals that were written in English or translated into English were included. Articles were assessed using a modified quality index that was used for descriptive purposes only and did not exclude any study from the review. RESULTS: All studies examined in this review were either case-control or case-series. Collectively all three studies reported improvements in balance. Pre-test and post-test Berg Balance Scale scores in two studies revealed that primary progressive MS demonstrated the greatest amount of change after hippotherapy compared to other subtypes of MS.
CONCLUSION: Hippotherapy has a positive effect on balance in persons with MS and has an added benefit of enhancing quality of life. The data is limited and further research will lead to a greater knowledge base and has the potential to increase accessibility for hippotherapy to be used as a rehabilitation modality.

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