Traumatic Brain Injury

Hippotherapy in Adult Patients with Chronic Brain Disorders: A Pilot Study

Sunwoo et al

Annals of Rehab Medicine (2012) 


To investigate the effects of hippotherapy for adult patients with brain disorders.

Eight chronic brain disorder patients (7 males, mean age 42.4±16.6 years) were recruited. The mean duration from injury was 7.9±7.7 years. The diagnoses were stroke (n=5), traumatic brain disorder (n=2), and cerebral palsy (n=1). Hippotherapy sessions were conducted twice a week for eight consecutive weeks in an indoor riding arena. Each hippotherapy session lasted 30 minutes. All participants were evaluated by the Berg balance scale, Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment, 10 Meter Walking Test, Functional Ambulatory Category, Korean Beck Depression Inventory, and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. We performed baseline assessments twice just before starting hippotherapy. We also assessed the participants immediately after hippotherapy and at eight weeks after hippotherapy.


All participants showed no difference in balance, gait function, and emotion between the two baseline assessments before hippotherapy. During the eight-week hippotherapy program, all participants showed neither adverse effects nor any accidents; all had good compliance. After hippotherapy, there were significant improvements in balance and gait speed in comparison with the baseline assessment (p<0.05), and these effects were sustained for two months after hippotherapy. However, there was no significant difference in emotion after hippotherapy.


We could observe hippotherapy to be a safe and effective alternative therapy for adult patients with brain disorders in improving balance and gait function. Further future studies are warranted to delineate the benefits of hippotherapy on chronic stroke patients.


Use of Hippotherapy with a Boy after Traumatic Brain Injury: a Case Study

Erdman, E & Pierce, S.

Pediatric Phys Therapy (2016) 


The purpose of this case report was to describe the use of hippotherapy with a boy who sustained a brain injury.


A 13-year-old boy, 6 months after traumatic brain injury received 12 physical therapy sessions, which included hippotherapy. Improvements were noted in balance, strength, gross motor skills, gait speed, functional mobility, and reported participation.


Hippotherapy used with a 13-year-old boy after traumatic brain injury may have had a positive effect in the body structure, activity, and participation domains.

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