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A hippotherapy simulator is effective to shift weight bearing toward the affected side during gait in patients with stroke

YH Sung, CJ Kim, BK Yu, KM Kim (2013)

AIM: We investigated whether a hippotherapy simulator has influence on symmetric body weight bearing during gait in patients with stroke. METHOD: Stroke patients were divided into a control group (n = 10) that received conventional rehabilitation for 60 min/day, 5 times/week for 4 weeks and an experimental group (n = 10) that used a hippotherapy simulator for 15 min/day, 5 times/week for 4 weeks after conventional rehabilitation for 45 min/day. Temporospatial gait assessed using OptoGait and trunk muscles (abdominis and erector spinae on affected side) activity evaluated using surface electromyography during sit-to-stand and gait. Prior to starting the experiment, pre-testing was performed. At the end of the 4-week intervention, we performed post-testing. RESULT: Activation of the erector spinae in the experimental group was significantly increased compared to that in the control group (p < 0.01), whereas activation of the rectus abdominis decreased during sit-to-stand. Of the gait parameters, load response, single support, total double support, and pre-swing showed significant changes in the experimental group with a hippotherapy simulator compared to control group (p < 0.05). Moreover, activation of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis in gait correlate with changes of gait parameters including load response, single support, total double support, and pre-swing in experimental group. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that use of a hippotherapy simulator to patients with stroke can improve asymmetric weight bearing by influencing trunk muscles.

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