Animal Assisted Therapy

My main topic of the first few weeks of posting will be on the non-traditional “healing centers” of hospitals and other institutions – mainly focusing on aninmal assisted therapy and incorporating a “natural” environment in medical facilities.  I feel this leads to not only better care for the patients, but also helps to boost the profit for said facilities, giving them the ability to hire more medical personnel.  I’ll start with a little about myself and why this is one of the topics I have chosen to expand on.

For nine years, my father had multiple brain hemorrhages.  He spent many years going through surgeries, respiratory rehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, mental rehabilitation, a two year stay at a nursing home, and in the end, had a two months of hospice care before passing away in August of 2011.  I spent almost that entire time at his side as I was his medical power of attorney (and best friend). I have learned so much from this experience and have seen the difference in each institution he spent time at. Some were good, some were terrible.

What I noticed is that my father seemed to flourish when he stayed at a facility that had some kind of non-traditional healing therapy. No I’m not talking about homeopathic medicinal care, but rather, in one instance,  animal assisted therapy.

Many hospitals and nursing homes are now incorporating this type of therapy into their everyday care of patients.  For years, nursing homes have had this type of “therapy”; such as bringing dogs into the home to “visit” with the residents and brighten their day.  It has been proven that animal therapy, such as dogs and cats visiting patients, not only boosts their mental and emotional moral, but also encourages them to participate in physical therapy, improve their mood, and help them to, temporarily, forget about their discomfort and pain and focus on the positive rather than the negative, even if it is only for a half hour or so every few days (

As a result of institutions adapting to this type of organic care, more and more patients are making the decision to be treated at hospitals and other facilities that have this type of therapeutic relief.  Quoting a good friend of mine whose 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, “This is my daughter. When there are hospitals out there that focus on pet assisted therapy, which has proven to make a difference in her well-being, why would I take her to a hospital that does not?”  She made the trek from the Midwest to Phoenix to admit her daughter into the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I, too, when trying to find the best facility to admit my father into, whether it was a nursing home or an inpatient therapy center, looked for the facilities that had the most to offer, not only medically, but also mentally.  I’m sure you feel the same why. If it’s possible to send a loved one to a medical institution that offers the most rounded health care, why would you not?

With this increase in patients, hospitals and other facilities are seeing an increase in profit as well.  This in turn allows them to hire more medical staff, leading to a more beneficial work atmosphere for the staff, which leads to more care and attention to the patients.  So you see, not only does pet therapy help in patient recovery, its results are bringing in more and more patients to these facilities, in turn, boosting the economic status of these institutions.

For more information on Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s animal assisted therapy programs, click here:


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