The effects of hippotherapy in children and adolescents with autism : a systematic review




Ybarbo, Emily Layne

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The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the effectiveness of hippotherapy, also known as horse- or equine-assisted therapy, for improving the socialization and communication behaviors of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The PubMed research database was used to search for relevant studies. Six studies were evaluated and demonstrated overall mixed findings for the use of hippotherapy as an effective treatment technique for communication and socialization skills. To further analyze the strength of these findings, the selected studies were evaluated for limitations related to outcome measure selected and treatment design. The present analysis revealed four main limitations: 1) lack of established treatment protocol led to differences with how hippotherapy was delivered; 2) most assessment measures were based on parent report; 3) small sample sizes; and 4) multiple treatment interference. While these limitations do not detract from the information gleaned from the treatment and research, implementing a standard protocol would make the replicability easier for future clinicians.


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