Objectives: To assess the chronic effects of hippotherapy on functional mobility, muscle strength and balance in elderly.
Methods: 28 volunteers, between the age of 60 and 84, were randomly recruited and divided in experimental group (EG), with 12 individuals (8 women and 4 men) and control group (CG), with 16 individuals (14 women and 2 men). The EG group participated in an 8-week hippotherapy program. Before and after the study period functional mobility was assessed and measured by Time Up and Go Test (TUG), muscle strength of the lower limbs was measured by 30s Chair Stand Test (30CST) and performance in balance was measured by the Berg Balance Scale (BBS). A mixed ANOVA model (group×testing time) was applied to establish the effect of the different groups on the functional variables.
Results: The functional capacity of the EG group was increased if compared to CG group after the intervention of the BBS (p=0.003) and 30CST (p=0.032), but not of the TUG (p=0.063).
Conclusion: The results indicated that hippotherapy improves the lower limb strength and balance in elderly.
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