One subject with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy participated in a hippotherapy program to determine if an improvement in sitting posture would occur. An ABAB design was used. Throughout the 11 week study, the subject was tested weekly for pelvic angle, seating angle, head displacement, and lateral postural deviation. These same measurements were also taken pre and post hippotherapy treatments during the weeks of hippotherapy sessions. The hippotherapy sessions consisted of the subject riding a horse in several different positions while the horse was walking at varying speed and directions. The results of this study indicated many inconsistencies in the subject's sitting posture. measurements obtained during the testing periods were too variable to establish a true significant difference between immediate and weekly interval effects of hippotherapy on sitting posture. Consequently, no objective conclusions can be drawn from this study. however, anecdotal information demonstrates improvements in the subject's functional abilities as noted by the parents, therapists, and authors. Marked improvements were noted in the subject's self care, mobility, and social function domains. Further research is needed to confirm these positive trends, as well as to develop more functional and reliable evaluation tools to accurately measure the effects of hippotherapy on sitting posture in children with cerebral palsy.
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