Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds – making animal friends can be a unique joy.
For people with brain injuries, pet therapy (animal-assisted therapy) can play an important role in recovery.
Pet therapy at Pate provides physical, mental, social and emotional benefits. It’s often used with physical therapy or counseling.
Physically, dogs can inspire sedentary patients to move. Patients may want to go for a walk that they didn’t want to take before. Or play a fun game of “fetch” that gets the heart rate up and provides some cardio exercise. Grooming pets with a brush can help improve motor skills.
Cognitively, pet therapy helps build brain skills of focus and screening out distractions. An animal is a natural attention-getter! And pets offer emotional benefits:
- Patients may warm up to a new therapist earlier if they bring along an animal friend
- People working to recover speech may enjoy the wordless connection of animals
- Dogs can reduce tension, and create instant social connection with petting and hugging
- Pets provide one-of-a-kind comfort, which someone going through brain injury rehabilitation can always use
Furry friends can act on physical health:
- Lower blood pressure
- Cause release of endorphins that create feelings of peace and contentment
- Reduce awareness of pain
- Induce the relaxation response
- Improve coordination and motor skills through petting
- Improve joint function
Pets can help mental health:
- Lessen depression
- Decrease loneliness
- Provide a focal point for the day
- Help socializing skills
- Reduce anxiety
- Interrupt negative thoughts and behaviors