Changes in motor skill proficiency after equine-assisted activities and brain-building tasks in youth with neurodevelopmental disorders

Date

2020-01-31

Authors

Rigby, B. Rhett
Davis, Ronald W.
Bittner, Melissa D.
Harwell, Robin W.
Leek, Eileen J.
Johnson, Geoben A.
Nichols, David L.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Frontiers in Veterinary Sciences

Abstract

There is a lack of current research to support the efficacy of a combination of equine-assisted activities (EAA) and brain building activities to influence motor skill competencies in youth with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND). The primary objective of this study was to quantify changes in motor skill proficiency before and after 8 weeks of EAA and brain-building activities in youth with ND. A secondary objective was to quantify changes in motor skill proficiency before and after 1 year of EAA and brain-building activities in youth with ND. Twenty-five youth completed the same 32-week protocol that was separated into 4, 8-week blocks, in the following order: (1) control; (2) EAA-only; (3) washout; (4) GaitWay block (EAA and brain building activities). Before and after each block, motor skills were assessed using the Short Form of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-Version 2 (BOT-2). Seven youth continued with the GaitWay intervention for one additional year, and the BOT-2 Short Form was also administered following this intervention. A repeated-measures analysis-of-variance was performed to compare BOT-2 subtest and overall scores between interventions with a significance of 0.05. Manual dexterity was higher at Post-Washout [3.3 (2.4)] vs. Pre-Control [2.2 (2.1); p = 0.018] and Post-Control [2.6 (2.0); p = 0.024], and at Post-GaitWay vs. Pre-Control [3.2 (2.4) vs. 2.2 (2.1); p = 0.037]. Upper-limb coordination was higher at Post-GaitWay vs. Post-Control [6.0 (4.1) vs. 3.9 (3.8); p = 0.050]. When compared to Pre-Control [3.2 (3.0)], strength was higher at Post-EAA [4.9 (3.5); p = 0.028] and at Post-GaitWay [5.2 (2.9); p = 0.015]. Overall scores were higher at Post-GaitWay [39.1 (22.2)] when compared to Pre-Control [32.4 (21.6); p = 0.003] and Post-Control [32.5 (21.9); p = 0.009]. Additionally, motor skills were maintained for 1 year following the Post-GaitWay testing session among seven participants. This is the first known study to include and demonstrate the short-term and long-term effects of a combination of EAA and brain building activities with motor proficiency in youth with ND.

Description

Article originally published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7. English. Published online 2020. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00022.

Keywords

Adolescents, Children, Equine-assisted activities, Motor proficiency, Neurodevelopmental, Plasticity, Therapeutic horseback riding

Citation

This is the publisher’s version of an article that is available at https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00022. Recommended citation: Rigby, B. R., Davis, R. W., Bittner, M. D., Harwell, R. W., Leek, E. J., Johnson, G. A., & Nichols, D. L. (2020). Changes in motor skill proficiency after equine-assisted activities and brain-building tasks in youth with neurodevelopmental disorders. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.

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