"Normal" methods in stroke recovery start as soon as the patient is awake and stable. What this involves depends on the damage: speech and language therapy if those centres of the brain were affected; physical therapy if limb function was damaged; or help in getting back to work, among other things. As stroke survivors usually do not continue rehab for too long, it isn't clear whether or not the same approaches will work for later stages of recovery. The "normal" opinion is that the potential for recovery is limited. Fortunately for too many, researchers are increasingly looking at "late-phase" recovery, as knowledge of neuroplasticity grows. Neuroplasticity gives us the ability to recover from injury by working around the damage and even growing new neurons (see: The Brain That Changes Itself).
|Source: David Blaikie (CC 2.0)|
This is not the first study to show functional improvement with horse riding after stroke. A smaller one, published in 2015, assigned ten patients to 30 minutes of horse riding a day, 5 days a week, for six weeks (the other ten were the control group). The group who got to ride horses showed significant improvement in gait, balance and activities of daily living, both compared to their abilities before and to the control group. While these were relatively small gains, the trial was only for six weeks. Overall, research may be in its early stages, but horse riding could be a great new hobby and therapy for stroke survivors, as it can do more than just standard therapy alone.