Authors: Dana Bădău 1, Papp Enikö 1, Flaviu Stelian Duşa 1, Iulia Macovei 1, Patricia-Maria
Mălăncrăvean 1, Mircea Ion-Ene 2, Adriana Neofit 2, Ramona Natalia Ungur 3, Adela Bădău 3
Affiliation: 1 Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Tîrgu-Mureș, Romania
2 Department of Individual Sports and Physiotherapy, “Dunărea de Jos” University Galați, Romania
3 Department of Physical Education, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Tîrgu-Mureș, Romania
Background. By combining two types of assisted therapies with horses and dogs, we believe that greater progress will be made in rehabilitating the balance compared to participating in a dog only- assisted therapy program.
Aims. The aim of the research is to assess the efficiency of implementation of animal-assisted therapy programs in order to improve the static and dynamic balance of children with neuromotor disabilities.
Methods. A prospective study for a period of three months included two groups of 7 children each with neuromotor impairments, age 5-7 years. The experimental group followed a dog and horse-assisted therapy program, and the control group a dog only-assisted program. Two sections of the Tinetti test were applied to assess the static and the standing balance. The main statistical indicators using SPSS 20. were: mean, standard deviation (SD), mean difference (MD), Z score. For the comparison of two groups we used: the t-test and the paired Wilcoxon test.
Results. The difference between the static balance tests in the Tinetti test: experimental group MD 1.23 ± 1.23, control group MD 0.61 ±1.12. Cohen’s effect size was d = 0.98 for the experimental group, which means a large effect, and d = 0.54 for the control group, meaning a medium effect size. When testing the standing balance in the Tinetti test: the experiment group MD 1.40 ± 1.19, the control group MD 0.06 ± 0.88; Cohen’s effect size was d = 1.17 for the experimental group, which means a very large effect and d = 0.07 for the control group, which means a very small effect size.
Conclusions. The animal-assisted therapy with dogs and horses increased the ability of children’s balance with neuromotor deficiencies because they tried to change their behavior and participate more actively in the treatment process. In both Tinetti static and standing tests, the experimental group made statistically significant improvements between the two tests, for p <0.05.
Keywords: balance, dog therapy, horse therapy, motor impairments, children.