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The Effect of Hippotherapy on Functional Outcomes for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study

The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of hippotherapy on functional outcomes using the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) for children with physical disabilities. Participants included 4 children aged 5 to 9 years with physical impairments and/or documented motor delays. Individual measurable objectives were developed using the GAS for each child. Data were collected on each child every other week throughout the baseline and intervention phase over 1 year using a multiple single case experimental A-B design. Three of the 4 children had a significant improvement in functional outcomes based on a standardized T-score formula from the GAS. Two of the 4 children had statistically significant results on the nonparametric binomial test following 6 months of intervention.  This study represents an initial attempt to use the GAS in a single-case design with a variety of pediatric diagnoses.

 The purpose of this study was to measure functional changes using the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) in individual children with a variety of diagnoses after a 6-month intervention period of hippotherapy. It was hypothesized that children would show significant improvement toward functional goals as measured before and after a hippotherapy program as compared with before and after an equal period of no riding. It was also hypothesized that parents would report improvements at home.

 This study represents an initial attempt to use a single case design for children with a variety of diagnoses and to examine the effects of hippotherapy on functional outcomes. In this preliminary pilot study, 3 of 4 children had improvements in functional outcomes as noted by their standardized T scores after 6 months of hippotherapy intervention. Two of the 4 children exhibited statistically significant improvements as shown by the nonparametric binomial test following 6 months of hippotherapy intervention. The findings from this study suggest that hippotherapy can be an effective intervention to improve functional outcomes for children. The author proposes that the GAS is a useful tool for goal development and in assessing functional changes in a single-subject experimental design.

Link: https://journals.lww.com/pedpt/Fulltext/2008/02030/The_Effect_of_Hippotherapy_on_Functional_Outcomes.10.aspx

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