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Effect of Hippotherapy on Perceived Self-competence and Participation in a Child with Cerebral Palsy

 This case report highlights changes in self-competence and social acceptance, along with changes in functional skills, after an 8-week program of hippotherapy. A 6-year-old girl with mild ataxic cerebral palsy, level I Gross Motor Functional Classification System, exhibited typical impairments in body systems and functions that affected her participation in age-appropriate functional and leisure activities. The child’s performance on the Gross Motor Function Measure-66, the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument, and the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children were examined at baseline, after the 8-week intervention, and at a 2-month follow-up session. Data at 8 weeks demonstrated positive changes in all areas, with improvements continuing for 2 months after the program’s completion. Hippotherapy not only may be an effective intervention to improve functional gross motor development but also may affect perceived self-competence and social acceptance, which may lead to increases in participation for children with mild cerebral palsy.

 This case report demonstrated that simple outcome measures that capture some of the elements of participation can be easily incorporated into examination and follow-up. The change scores on these outcome measures may help to connect improvements in activity performance and increased participation, self-competence, social acceptance, and quality of life. The findings of this case report indicate that integrating hippotherapy into physical therapy intervention appeared to increase this child’s self-competence and participation.


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