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Comparison between the robo-horse and real horse movements for hippotherapy


While the novel robotic hippotherapy system has gradually gained clinical application for therapeutic intervention on postural and locomotor control in individuals with neurological or musculoskeletal impairments, the system's validity and reliability for the robotic hippotherapy system has not been well established. The objective of the current study was to investigate the validity and test-retest reliability of the robotic hippotherapy system by comparing with real horse movements. The 3-axis accelerometer sensors attached on the robotic and real horse saddles were used to collect 3-dimensional acceleration data at a preferred walking velocity. Linear regression analysis showed an excellent correlation in the time-to-peak acceleration (TPA) (R2=0.997), but little correlation in X-axis acceleration between the real and robotic horses (R2=0.177), thus confirming consistent time control and a certain degree of variability between the robotic and real horse movements. The mean resultant accelerations for a real horse and robotic horse were 3.22 m/s2 and 0.67 m/s2, respectively, accounting for almost five times greater acceleration in the real horse than the robotic horse.