This study investigated the effectiveness of a16-week therapeutic horseback riding (THR) program on the gross motor function measures (GMFM) and the muscle tone of hip adductors in 14 children with spastic cerebral palsy (age: 3 years, one month to 11 years, 5 months). In the first phase of 16 weeks, nine of the children received the THR in addition to their regular treatment, while the rest received their regular treatment only. In the second phase (also 16 weeks), the arrangements were reversed. After THR, some of the children improved significantly in the GMFM E (walk/run/jump) score and the total score. The effect appears to be sustained for at least 16 weeks. No effect of THR on muscle tone was noted. We conclude that THR may be beneficial for some children with spastic cerebral palsy.
Rong-Ju Cherng is with the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, R.O.C. Hua-Fang Liao is Associate Professor in the School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Henry W.C. Leung is with the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan, Taiwan. Ai-Wen Hwang is with the Taipei City Government in Taipei, Taiwan.
Henry W.C. Leung, Department of Oncology, is also the president of the Chinese Riding for The Disabled Association, Taiwan. We would like to thank the Association of Cerebral Palsy of the Republic of China for the financial support. Also, we would like to thank the parents of the participating children in Tainan, the staff of the Tainan Municipal Equestrian Training Center, the teachers and staff of Tainan St. Raphael Opportunity Center, the students of the Department of Physical Therapy of National Cheng Kung University, and the staff of the Cancer Center of National Cheng Kung University Hospital for their assistance during this study.