Healthy Living

Multiple Sclerosis: Walk, Talk, and Learn with Therapy Horses

A difference exists, but is it clinically significant?

The regiment used was provided in accordance by the German Curatorship for Therapeutic Riding and specifically designed to work for individuals with MS. The study lasted 3 months and worked with 70 patients and 5 horse centers across Germany. Patients who participated in the study expressed their content with the hippotherapy sessions, stating that their symptoms and their sense of balance improved.

The primary outcome of the study was a change in the Berg Balance Scale, which is a broadly used clinical test of an individual’s balance activities and includes additional measures such as balance, fatigue, pain, and quality of life. While the study did reveal positive results, the researchers were hoping for more. Gerber-Grote noted that while the clinical meaningfulness of the study did not make a big difference as they had hoped for on the Berg Balance Scale, a difference existed nonetheless. She proposed conducting further research by either prolonging the study, intensifying the therapy, or working with patient groups with more severe symptoms. Nevertheless, Gerber-Grote emphasized the significance of the study, claiming that it “allowed for a sound, rigorous study to see if hippotherapy, a non-drug intervention, helped MS patients.”