The clinical effect of hippotherapy on gross motor function of children with cerebral palsy

Little, K. ; Nel, N. ; Ortell, V. ; Van Wyk, H. ; Badenhorst, M. ; Louw, Q. A. (2013-12-11)

CITATION: Little, K. et al. 2013. The clinical effect of hippotherapy on gross motor function of children with Cerebral Palsy. South African Journal of Physiotherapy, 69(2):26-34, doi: 10.4102/sajp.v69i2.321.

The original publication is available at


Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability affecting gross motor function (GMF ) in early childhood. Hippotherapy is a treatment approach aimed at improving GMF in children with CP. Several systematic reviews have been published showing an improvement in Dimension E of the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM ) after hippotherapy. However, these reviews failed to evaluate the clinical effect of hippotherapy in improving GMF in children with CP. Objective: To critically appraise the evidence of hippotherapy to ascertain whether it is a clinically meaningful approach for children with CP. Methodology: Five computerised bibliographic databases were searched. Predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria were set. The PEDro scale was used to assess the quality of the studies. A revised JBI Data extraction tool was used to extract data from the selected articles. Revman© Review Manager Software was used to create forest plots for comparisons of results. Results: All studies used the GMFM as an outcome measure for gross motor function. The added benefit of hippotherapy is a minimum 1% and a maximum 7% increase on the GMFM scores. However, all 95% confidence intervals (CI ) around all the mean differences were insignificant. Conclusion: The clinical effect of hippotherapy on the GMF of children with CP is small. Larger studies are required to provide evidence of the effect of hippotherapy within this population.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL:
This item appears in the following collections: