Perceptions of Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies by Parents and Children With Spinal Muscular Atrophy

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Abstract

Purpose:

To identify the physical and psychosocial effects of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAATs) on children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) from the perspective of the children and their parents.

Methods:

The families of all eligible children with SMA, who reported participation in EAAT, from a Western metropolitan academic center were contacted and invited to participate. This study implemented qualitative, semistructured interviews of children with SMA and their parents.

Results:

Three themes emerged from the qualitative content analysis: physical/psychosocial benefits; relationship development with the horses, instructors, and children; and barriers to continued EAAT engagement.

Conclusions:

The data suggest that the overall EAAT experience was a source of enjoyment, self-confidence, and normalcy for the children with SMA. The results of this study provide preliminary support for the use of EAAT among children with SMA.

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