Many children with physical disabilities participate in therapeutic horseback riding programs and there are reportedly many health benefits to this activity. However, there is a lack of research evidence to support these anecdotal claims, especially in psychological and social outcome areas.
We studied the effects of participation in a 9-12 week therapeutic horseback riding program for children with cerebral palsy focusing on three aspects of health functioning; psychological, and social and physical. Specifically, looking at overall wellbeing, social inclusion, fatigue and pain levels, social inclusion and perceived independence in daily life roles. A mixture of questionnaires and interviews were used to best capture these factors, which have not been previously studied. Children ages 5-12 with a primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy who were participating in a therapeutic horseback riding program in Fall 2020 were recruited from two therapeutic riding centres in Southwestern Ontario. The children completed an electronic questionnaire at two separate time points and participated in a virtual interview after the 9-12 week therapeutic riding program, parental input was welcomed.
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