1. Borges de Araujo, Thais PT, MSc


Background and Purpose: Alzheimer disease (AD) is a chronic, progressive dementia syndrome that features cognitive and behavioral symptoms, as well as physical and functional limitations that develop over the course of the disease. As an activity that involves physical and cognitive aspects, equine-assisted therapy (EAT) could be a useful therapeutic approach in conditions that involve physical and cognitive decline. However, to date, there are no reports of the use of this therapy in participants with AD. Within this context, the objective of this case series was to describe the effects of EAT on balance, functional capacity, and cognition in older adults diagnosed with AD.


Methods: We enrolled 9 participants, of both sexes, with a mean age of 79.7 (7.8) years and a diagnosis of AD. The study intervention comprised 20 sessions of EAT. We evaluated participants at baseline and at the end of the intervention. Outcome measures were balance (force plate), functional capacity (Timed Up and Go test and 30-second chair stand test), and cognition (verbal fluency and Mini-Mental State Examination).


Results: Comparison between the pre- and postintervention time points (Wilcoxon test) revealed significant improvements in balance (center of pressure in the anterior-posterior direction, P = .017) and functional capacity (Timed Up and Go test, P = .036, and 30-second chair stand test, P = .012).


Conclusion: These findings provide evidence of an association between EAT and improved balance and functional capacity in older adults with AD, with no significant impact on cognitive performance.