Hippotherapy and strength, mobility and balance in elderly
With the aging population phenomenon, the functional abilities of elderly become increasingly important, and new treatments are being studied. This article aims to find the effects of hippotherapy on muscle strength, functional mobility and balance, which are different aspects necessary for elderly to perform activities of daily life.
In this trial, 28 volunteers between the age of 60 and 84 were randomly assigned to a hippotherapy group or a control group. The hippotherapy group performed a biweekly hippotherapy session. All aspects were assessed before and after training with different tools: functional mobility was assessed and measured by Time Up and Go Test (TUG), muscle strength of the lower limbs was measured by the 30s Chair Stand Test (30CST) and performance in balance was measured by the Berg Balance Scale (BBS).
The results show that there was a significant improvement in the hippotherapy group as compared to the control group with regards to the BBS (p = 0.003) and 30CST (p = 0.032), but not of the TUG (p = 0.063). The results therefore show that hippotherapy improves the lower limb strength and balance in elderly. However, a limitation to this study is that the control group was not prescribed any specific exercises but continued as before.
> From: De Araújo et al., Arch Gerontol Geriatr 56 (2017) 478-481. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Click here for the online summary.