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Going through treatment, trying to cope with a social disorder or building the courage to start exercising again all come with their own physical and emotional stresses. When facing a unique struggle, many patients have found an equally unique solution in the form of pet therapy. This treatment method pairs patients with animals such as a dog, cat or another creature to provide comfort and support that’s shown to have a number of benefits.Pet therapy animals can provide individual comfort to a patient working towards a specific goal through structured activities. This could include:
Therapy animals and their handlers both go through a certification process, but it’s important to note that therapy dogs don’t receive the same training as service dogs.Not only are domestic animals like dogs and cats able to become therapy animals, but there are also ways to work with smaller animals (rabbits, fish, birds), as well as even bigger animals like horses or dolphins. Leon Benson, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon at NorthShore and owner of two certified therapy dogs (pictured above with Chelsea) details the process of animal therapy and some of the positive effects it can have on patients. Studies have shown that pet therapy can help improve:
NorthShore is happy to be offering a pet therapy program for its patients through Evanston Hospital. Learn more through our Physical Medicine & Rehabilitations Services.
What do you think would be a great new way to use pet therapy?