Honors student Devin Fohn was selected to present her research at the 14th Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research. Fohn was one of nearly two hundred undergraduates who came together at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union to share their research with their peers and the UNC community at large.
Fohn’s project, “Hippotherapy as a Rehabilitation Method for Regaining Ambulatory Function in Spinal Cord Injury Patients,” focused on hippotherapy, a form of physical therapy that incorporates the characteristic movements of a horse. According to Fohn, there is some evidence that a horse’s steady gait can improve muscular function in patients with neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy. So she decided to investigate whether hippotherapy would be beneficial for patients with spinal cord injuries.
After conducting a thorough literature review, Fohn uncovered no current research on using hippotherapy to rehabilitate patients with spinal cord injuries. But Fohn also found that many of the reported physiological benefits of hippotherapy, such as improved coordination and strength training, correlate with the treatment needs of these patients.
She hopes her work will encourage health care professionals to consider hippotherapy a viable option for spinal-cord-injury rehabilitation.
Devin Fohn’s advisor for this project is Clinical Assistant Professor Beth Lamanna, RN, MPH, WHNP.