Positive Effects of Hippotherapy on Children with Dravet Syndrome




Duarte, Kelsey

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Hippotherapy has been used since the time of Hippocrates as a therapeutic treatment. Though not experimentally researched in Dravet Syndrome, there is reason to believe that hippotherapy would be beneficial to both the physical and emotional needs of these children. Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy, or more commonly known as Dravet Syndrome, is a rare seizure disorder that effects roughly one in every thirty thousand children before the age of seven. It is an epileptic encephalopathy that is caused by a mutation in the SCNA1 gene. This mutation is the basis for the numerous, often uncontrollable seizures that these children face. As a side effect of these seizures, most children experience motor impairments, most notably ataxia. There are many drug and non-pharmacological treatments that have been shown effective to help reduce the number and severity of the seizures, but most are very expensive and still experimental. Based on proven results in patients with similar disorders such as multiple sclerosis that cause ataxia, it is concluded that hippotherapy would be effective but needs further experimental study. In addition to hippotherapy being cheaper than many alternatives, it would be effective in the following areas of a child with Dravet Syndrome’s life such as quality of life, social skills, coordination, and balance.



Hippotherapy, Dravet Syndrome, SMEI, Horse, severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, treatment, encephalopathy