Effect of an equine-movement therapy program on gait, energy expenditure, and motor function in children with spastic cerebral palsy: a pilot study

Dev Med Child Neurol. 1998 Nov;40(11):754-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.1998.tb12344.x.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of an 8-week program of hippotherapy on energy expenditure during walking; on the gait dimensions of stride length, velocity, and cadence; and on performance on the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) in five children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP). A repeated-measures within-subjects design was used consisting of two baseline measurements taken 8 weeks apart, followed by an 8-week intervention period, then a posttest. After hippotherapy, all five children showed a significant decrease (X2(r)=7.6, P<0.05) in energy expenditure during walking and a significant increase (X2(r)=7.6, P<0.05) in scores on Dimension E (Walking, Running, and Jumping) of the GMFM. A trend toward increased stride length and decreased cadence was observed. This study suggests that hippotherapy may improve energy expenditure during walking and gross motor function in children with CP.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Child
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Horses*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking