Arthritis is a debilitating disease affecting a large portion of the world’s adult population over 45 years old. Current treatments and medications are lacking in alleviating stiffness and pain, improving loss of function and quality of life, often with serious sequelae and side effects. Alternative methods of treating arthritis are required. Providing a biopsychosocial approach to arthritis is the recommended focus of treatment by the European League Against Rheumatism. Equine-assisted therapy delivers tri-rotational movements, that improve range of motion, decrease pain, and improve quality of life measures. Reasons for this include the mechanical action of horse riding, subconscious views of partnering with a large powerful animal revered by society, and effects from the human-equine interactions during treatment, resulting in improved self confidence, and self esteem. Equine-assisted therapy is unique in stimulating all senses in addition to providing the rider with success and mastery of physical tasks. Horse riding provides exercise to the joints in a non-weight bearing manner, muscle stretching and use, nerve stimulation, all of which is usually conducted in a group situation providing pleasure. Randomized controlled trials have provided evidence of improved outcomes with 30 minute sessions once a week for six weeks.
Qualitative, quantitative, factor analysis, assessment, methodology, ICF, equine assisted therapy