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An Exploration of Equine-Assisted Therapy to Improve Balance, Functional Capacity, and Cognition in Older Adults With Alzheimer Disease

By T. Borges de Araujo, W. R. Martins, M. P. Freitas, E. Camargos, J. Mota, M. P. Safons

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Alzheimer disease (AD) is a chronic, progressive dementia syndrome that features cognitive and behavioral symptoms, as well as physical and functional limitations that develop over the course of the disease. As an activity that involves physical and cognitive aspects, equine-assisted therapy (EAT) could be a useful therapeutic approach in conditions that involve physical and cognitive decline. However, to date, there are no reports of the use of this therapy in participants with AD. Within this context, the objective of this case series was to describe the effects of EAT on balance, functional capacity, and cognition in older adults diagnosed with AD. METHODS: We enrolled 9 participants, of both sexes, with a mean age of 79.7 (7.8) years and a diagnosis of AD. The study intervention comprised 20 sessions of EAT. We evaluated participants at baseline and at the end of the intervention. Outcome measures were balance (force plate), functional capacity (Timed Up and Go test and 30-second chair stand test), and cognition (verbal fluency and Mini-Mental State Examination). RESULTS: Comparison between the pre- and postintervention time points (Wilcoxon test) revealed significant improvements in balance (center of pressure in the anterior-posterior direction, P = .017) and functional capacity (Timed Up and Go test, P = .036, and 30-second chair stand test, P = .012). CONCLUSION: These findings provide evidence of an association between EAT and improved balance and functional capacity in older adults with AD, with no significant impact on cognitive performance.

Publication Title J Geriatr Phys Ther
Volume 42
Issue 3
Pages E155-e160
ISBN/ISSN 1539-8412
DOI 10.1519/jpt.0000000000000167
Language eng
Notes 2152-0895Borges de Araujo, ThaisMartins, Wagner RodriguesFreitas, Marco PoloCamargos, EinsteinMota, JessicaSafons, Marisete PeraltaJournal ArticleUnited StatesJ Geriatr Phys Ther. 2019 Jul/Sep;42(3):E155-E160. doi: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000167.
Author Address Graduate Program in Physical Education, School of Physical Education, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, DF, Bazil.Graduate Program in Public Health, Faculdade de Ceilandia, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, DF, Bazil.Graduate Program in Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, DF, Bazil.Faculdade de Ceilandia, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, DF, Bazil.
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Cognition
  3. Exercise
  4. Females
  5. Hippotherapy
  6. Humans
  7. Males
  8. Older adults
  9. Posture