Hippotherapy and respiratory muscle strength in children and adolescents with Down syndrome

Valéria Sovat de Freitas Costa, Hudday Mendes da Silva, Elioenai Dornelles Alves, Patrick Ramon Stafin Coquerel, André Ribeiro da Silva, Jônatas de França Barros

Abstract


Introduction: Individuals with Down syndrome may have decreased respiratory muscle strength due to hypotonia, a common characteristic in this population. Objective: To analyze the effects of a hippotherapy program on respiratory muscle strength in individuals with Down syndrome. Materials and methods: The study included 41 subjects, 20 of which were in the hippotherapy practicing group (PG) and 21 of which were in the non-practicing group (NPG). Study subjects were of both sexes, aged 7-13 years, and all diagnosed with Down syndrome. A manovacuometer was used to measure respiratory muscle strength, following the protocol proposed by Black and Hyatt (23). Statistical analysis was performed by means of descriptive distribution. After verifying normality and homoscedasticity of the variables, the Mann-Whitney test was used to determine differences between the means of the two groups (PG and NPG), and the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient test was used to view possible relationships with age and time practicing hippotherapy. Significance was set at p < 0.05. Results and discussion: Individuals who practiced hippotherapy showed improvements in both inspiratory and expiratory respiratory muscle strength, although no significant difference was demonstrated. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that hippotherapy benefits respiratory muscle strength in individuals with Down syndrome, and that the youngest subjects had the best results.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/0103-5150.028.002.AO18

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