Improving gross motor function and postural control with hippotherapy in children with Down syndrome: case reports

Physiother Theory Pract. 2010 Nov;26(8):564-71. doi: 10.3109/09593981003623659. Epub 2010 Jul 31.


The purpose of this case report is to describe the impact of an 11-week hippotherapy program on the gross motor functions of two children (respectively 28 and 37 months old) diagnosed with Down syndrome. Hippotherapy is a strategy that uses the horse's motion to stimulate and enhance muscle contraction and postural control. The children were assessed by the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) and accelerometry. The results indicate that both children improved on many dimensions of the GMFM. Power spectral analysis of the acceleration signals showed improvement in postural control of either the head or trunk, because the children adopted two different adaptative strategies to perturbation induced by the moving horse.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Down Syndrome / therapy*
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Observer Variation
  • Postural Balance*
  • Treatment Outcome