Animal Assisted Therapy
Objectives To determine whether a 12-minute hospital visit with a therapy dog improves hemodynamic measures, lowers neurohormone levels, and decreases state anxiety in patients with advanced heart failure.
Conclusions Animal-assisted therapy improves cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels, and anxiety in patients hospitalized with heart failure.
The use of animals in the promotion or improvement of health is long-standing, yet this complementary healing modality is not widely integrated into mainstream health care. This article describes the history of animals in therapeutic healing, defines animalassisted interventions (AAIs), and reviews current research. Indications and contraindications for use with patients and clients and issues of safety, cost, reimbursement, and certification are discussed. AAIs result in statistically significant health benefits with improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary immunoglobulin A levels and in depression, anxiety, perceived quality of health, and loneliness. Although some studies are weak in experimental design, overall research reveals multiple indications with few contraindications for use of AAIs.
For almost 50 years specially trained dogs have been used in clinical and family settings to facilitate how children with autism engage in social interaction and participate in everyday activities. Yet little theoretical grounding and empirical study of this socioclinical phenomenon has been offered by social science. This article draws on interdisciplinary scholarship to situate the study of the therapeutic use of dogs for children and teens with autism. Two case studies of service and therapy dogs’ mediating social engagement of children with autism in relationships, interactions, and activities illustrate how dogs support children’s communication, their experience of emotional connection with others, and their participation in everyday life. Theorizing this process enriches approaches to sociality in psychological anthropology. [animal-assisted therapy, autism, engagement, sociality, intersubjectivity]
The effects of a therapeutic recreation intervention using animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on the agitated behaviors and social interactions of older adults with dementia were examined using the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory and the Animal-Assisted Therapy Flow Sheet. In a pilot study, 15 nursing home residents with dementia participated in a daily AAT intervention for three weeks. Results showed statistically significant decreases in agitated behaviors and a statistically significant increase in social interaction pretest to post-test.
"The data from a psychological perspective shows that building motivation to become more active, for example, is a way dogs can help patients," says Hosey. "Once you have a dog in the room staring up at you expecting a treat or a pat, it's hard for a patient to avoid engaging."
In other cases, a dog may simply sit on a patient's lap, providing a calm, affectionate presence that has been shown to improve mood and pain ratings.""