Taking a Closer Look at Animal Assisted Therapy
If you or someone you love suffers from a physical or mental disability, you might be interested in learning more about animal assisted therapy. With the many documented benefits of animal assisted therapy, it is certainly a technique that you might want to explore further in order to improve the health of the person you care about.
What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
Animal assisted therapy isnt all about spending time with a cute and cuddly animal, though this can certainly be part of the process. Rather, animal assisted therapy is a type of physical or occupational therapy that involves utilizing animals in order to help meet therapeutic goals. For example, a child with a physical disability or injury that has lead to muscle weakness in the arms may be encouraged to pet an animal with the weak arm. The therapist may also add weights to the childs arm in order to further help strengthen the muscles. With the help of the pet, the child is more motivated to lift the arm and perform the exercises that are necessary for recovery.
What are the Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy?
The benefits of animal assisted therapy have long been recognized by St. Marys Hospital for Children in New York. In fact, the hospital started a pilot animal assisted therapy program in 1998 and has since expanded the program to include numerous dogs, which provide therapy to children in groups as well as on an individual basis.
In addition to helping encourage children to engage in their prescribed therapy, there are many other benefits of animal assisted therapy. For example, interacting with animals can improve the overall quality of life of the sick or injured child. As a result, it can help speed up recovery time. Furthermore, the bonds that children form with animals can be quite beneficial and results in the pet serving as a sort of co-therapist in the childs therapeutic program.
Another one of the benefits of animal assisted therapy is that caring for the animals can help special needs children develop more independence. By having them feed, groom and otherwise care for the animal, children can improve their fine motor skills, cognitive skills, dressing skills, play skills and more.
The reality is that spending time with a loving pet makes everyone feel better, whether in need of therapy or not. So, if allowing a furry, four-legged friend to interact with sick children can help them heal faster, why wouldnt you implement animal assisted therapy into a therapeutic program?