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Horseback Riding May Improve Function in Late-Phase Stroke

Music-and-rhythm therapy also shown to help improve balance and memory

horse riding

FRIDAY, June 16, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Two unconventional therapies -- horseback riding and music-and-rhythm therapy -- can help stroke survivors regain lost mobility and balance years later, according to a study published online June 15 in Stroke.

Michael Nilsson, M.D., Ph.D., a rehabilitation medicine specialist and professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned 123 stroke survivors in Sweden either to horseback riding or music-and-rhythm therapy or to a comparison group that received standard care. Patients in both treatment groups met with therapists twice a week for 12 weeks. None of the stroke survivors in the study had severe disabilities, but they did have lingering issues with essential functions like balance, walking, and memory.

The researchers found that six months later, patients who went through either the riding or music therapy were showing better balance and mobility, versus those in the comparison group. Compared with patients in the standard-care group, more patients in the horseback riding and music-and-rhythm groups believed their stroke recovery had progressed.

"Multimodal interventions can improve long-term perception of recovery, as well as balance, gait, grip strength, and working memory in a mixed population of individuals in late phase after stroke," the authors write.

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