A structured therapeutic riding program benefited veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms and functional disabilities, a study has found.
Texas-based researchers enrolled 89 veterans in the study. Fifty-one participated in an eight-week therapeutic riding program and 38 were in the waitlist/control group. Seventy-six percent completed all eight weeks of the program and 55% completed the two-month follow up surveys. Twenty-nine of the 38 waitlist/control group members completed all eight-weeks. The sample consisted of 62 men and 27 women, with an average age of 39. Most participants had completed at least two tours of duty.
Principal investigator Beth Lanning and her Baylor University colleagues set out to examine the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on posttraumatic stress symptoms, quality of life, and functioning of combat veterans using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) as a framework.
The study team, reporting in the June edition of the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, said their findings revealed a clinically significant decrease in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Participants showed improved social functioning, greater vitality, and it was found there was less interference of emotions on their daily activities. There was evidence of improved confidence, trust, acceptance of self and others, and gratitude.
The participants reported clinically meaningful improvement in PTSD symptoms and mental health, the authors reported, with a marked improvement in participation and overall functioning over the course of the program.