How dogs can help aid rehabilitation

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Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and the charity Dogs for Good are conducting a pilot project to see how specially trained dogs can help patients in their recovery.

Therapy dog Danny and specialist handler Iris Smolkovic, with occupational therapist Alicia Hing and patient Charlotte Simcock.

The new treatment practice, Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI), is a well-established practice in many parts of the world, but is quite new in the UK.

A series of tasks such as throwing a ball, tugging a toy, and grooming are included in carefully planned sessions designed to help support rehabilitation.

The project will explore the following potential benefits:

  • the motivational factor of the dog in engaging patients in their occupational therapy programme
  • the role of the dog in engaging patients in effective occupational therapy sessions (for example does the dog promote an improved level of effort or duration?)
  • the effectiveness of AAI techniques in the achievement of occupational therapy

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