Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2020) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research project to determine the effects of an equine-assisted therapy (EAT) program on the lives of older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, How does 8 weeks of equine-assisted therapy affect older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?, led by researchers from the Texas Woman’s University School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, will compare bradykinesia severity and functional outcomes before and after 8 weeks of EAT in adults with PD, and characterize the resulting human-animal interaction
“While research studies examining the physiological benefits of horseback riding have been conducted before, there is a lack of published research regarding the physical adaptations of EAT in adults with PD,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, B. Rhett Rigby, PhD, Texas Woman’s University. “We hope that the results of this study will further the efficacy of EAT as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance by healthcare practitioners.”
Thirty men diagnosed with PD, aged 40 to 80 years, will be recruited and randomly assigned into two groups. Fifteen participants will complete eight weeks of EAT, and fifteen participants will complete a similar protocol on a horseback riding simulator. The EAT intervention will contain 17 total sessions across a period of eight weeks, and a licensed physical therapist will oversee and conduct all EAT sessions. A similar protocol will be in place for the simulated riding session. Preliminary data in the form of two pilot studies suggest that an improvement in postural sway and balance is present after both EAT and simulated riding in older adults with balance deficits. The study will seek to determine if these adaptions will lead to improvements with other hallmark features of PD pathophysiology, including bradykinesia, posture, balance, and gait. Researchers expect that individuals participating in the EAT sessions will experience greater decreases in bradykinesia severity compared to those participating in simulated horseback riding and that individuals with PD may experience improvements in skeletal muscle strength at the core and pelvis as a result of this exercise.
“HABRI is proud to fund this important research into the benefits of EAT for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI. “By promoting interaction and engagement with horses, this study has the potential to positively impact an understudied population while fostering human-animal bonds and improving physical and occupational therapy practices.”
“With a greater understanding of the physical effects of equine-assisted therapy for these individuals and greater acceptance by healthcare practitioners, we hope to also see an increase in demand for EAT that will ultimately result in EAT becoming more affordable and accessible,” added Dr. Rigby.
HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit www.habri.org.
More Press Releases
New Research Shows Cats Help Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced the results of a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing titled, “Exploratory study of cat adoption in families of children with autism: Impact on children’s social skills and anxiety,” demonstrating that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience increases in empathy and decreases in problem behaviors after adoption of a shelter cat into their families. “Our study found that children with ASD experienced significant increases in the social skill of empathy, significant decreases in problem behaviors including bullying and hyperactivity/inattention, and also less separation anxiety after the introduction of a shelter cat,” said Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, MEd, RN, research scientist at the University of Missouri Research Center for Human Animal Interaction (ReCHAI). “Previous research has focused on interactions of dogs with children who have ASD, but dogs may not provide the best fit for all children and their families, especially given the hypersensitivities to sound that are common among children with ASD,” Carlisle said. “We hope the results of this study will help encourage more families to consider the possibility of cat ownership and help more shelter cats find loving, deserving homes.” “For the first time, we have scientific research that shows how beneficial cats can be for families of children with ASD,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI, the primary funder of the study. “Selecting a suitable family pet is an important decision. Families with a child with ASD now have more information and more choices, and we hope that this will also help more shelter cats find good homes.” Findings of the Feline Friends study, led by researchers at the University of Missouri, demonstrated that children with an adopted shelter cat had better empathy and less separation anxiety, as well as fewer problem behaviors exhibited by less externalizing, bullying...
Pet Week on Capitol Hill Goes Virtual
Hosted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), Pet Week on Capitol Hill will bring the power of pets to Capitol Hill, delivering the message to elected representatives that pets are important for human health and wellbeing, especially during these unprecedented times. In an effort to safeguard the health and safety of all, Pet Night on Capitol Hill, the popular, in-person annual reception has been converted to a series of virtual conversations to be held September 8-10, 2020. “Pets have become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Pet Week on Capitol Hill will feature conversations with Members of Congress and pet care leaders about the importance of pet ownership in America.” In addition to a wealth of information about pets and related policies and legislation that will strengthen the human-animal bond, Pet Week will still include the much-anticipated Cutest Pets on Capitol competition! Pet Week on Capitol Hill is a free event, with all programming streaming from www.PetNight.com. The full schedule is listed below: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 4:00 PM EDT Pet Nation: The Importance of Pets in America Mark Cushing Author, Pet Nation Steven Feldman Executive Director, HABRI Wednesday, September 9, 2020 12 PM EDT Lifesaving Pet-Related Legislation: A Discussion Of Important Initiatives That Will Help Keep Pets And People Safe, Healthy And Happy Together Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, Chief Veterinary Officer, Nestlé Purina PetCare (and his puppy Emmie) Nicole Forsyth, President & CEO, RedRover Nicole Lanahan, Executive Director, Got Your Six Support Dogs 4:00 PM EDT One Health Act: The Role of Veterinary Medicine in Preventing Future Pandemics Representative Kurt Schrader (OR-5) Thursday, September 10, 2020 12 PM EDT Pet Ownership and Pet Industry Economics in the Post-COVID...
Virtual Lecture: The Importance of the Human-Animal Bond for Veterinarians
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and IDEXX, a global leader in pet healthcare innovation, today hosted a lecture with Dr. Jason Johnson, Vice President and Global Chief Medical Officer at IDEXX, and Steven Feldman, HABRI President, discussing compelling data on the importance of veterinarians as trusted resources for pet owners on the science of the human-animal bond. “IDEXX is incredibly proud of our support for HABRI, its scientific research exploring the health benefits of the human-animal bond, and our partnership on this lecture series,” said Dr. Jason Johnson, VP and Global Chief Medical Officer at IDEXX. “By sharing how the human-animal bond is strengthening and how important it is to the health and well-being of people and their pets, we believe we can make a meaningful difference for the veterinary profession.” The Human-Animal Bond Lecture Series was created to connect animal health professionals and pet owners with the science of the human-animal bond in a free and easy-to-use virtual format. Upcoming lectures in 2022 will feature academic researchers introducing new scientific studies investigating the health benefits of human-animal interaction (HAI), from child health to healthy aging. Lectures will also focus on providing veterinary teams with the tools they need to engage with their clients on these topics, which has been shown to improve compliance and care. “With awareness of human-animal bond science higher than ever before, we want to equip veterinarians to be at the center of these conversations,” said HABRI President Steven Feldman. “HABRI is grateful for the continued support and leadership of IDEXX. Together, we are looking forward to bringing the science of the human-animal bond to a wider audience of animal health professionals and pet owners.” Animal health professionals who view these sessions live will be eligible to receive RACE-approved Continuing Education (CE) credit through the American Association of...