Horse-riding simulator helped hospitalized older people – review

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Simulated horse riding brought about significant improvements in gait and balance in hospitalized older patients, a review has noted.

Researchers in the Netherlands assessed the effect of physical interventions on physical performance and physical activity in older patients during stays in hospital.

Their systematic review examined the findings of 15 randomized controlled studies that met their criteria.

One involved the use of horse-riding simulation in a group of 15 individuals with an average age of 78.4. The results were compared to a control group of 15 older patients who undertook a ball exercise program.

The horse-riding simulator imitated the three-dimensional movements of a live horse. Its speed was adjusted to the individual ability of each patient.

The horse-riding simulation resulted in significantly improved gait ability and balance among the intervention group, based on two tests, when compared with the control group.

However, overall, the effect of the physical interventions on physical performance examined in the review was inconsistent and uncertain, Kira Scheerman, Kirsten Raaijmakers and their colleagues reported in the journal BMC Geriatrics.

Patient-tailored interventions – continuously adapted to the capabilities of the patient – were not found to be superior over interventions that were not.

“To establish effective interventions, further research is needed on the minimal dose-effect relationship of physical interventions with adequate reporting of frequency, intensity and duration,” they concluded.

“Meanwhile there is a clear need for standardization and proper definition of outcome measures for physical performance.”

The full study team comprised Scheerman, Raaijmakers, René Hubert Joseph Otten, Carel Gerardus Maria Meskers and Andrea Britta Maier.

Effect of physical interventions on physical performance and physical activity in older patients during hospitalization: a systematic review
Kira Scheerman, Kirsten Raaijmakers, René Hubert Joseph Otten, Carel Gerardus Maria Meskers and Andrea Britta Maier
BMC Geriatrics 2018 18:288 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-018-0965-2

The review, published under a Creative Commons License, can he read here.

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