Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in healthcare is no new subject. Modern healthcare uses AAT in the treatment of illnesses such as mental disorders. Further, the therapy is a goal-directed intervention that uses the human-animal bond as an integral part of a treatment process (OpenSIUC, n.d.). Over the years, animal-assisted therapy gained prominence in medicine owing to its benefits in human well-being, health, and educational interventions. Nevertheless, AAT is a less-formal treatment with various forms such as horse-assisted therapies and dog-assisted therapies.
The therapy has since gained interest and investment due to a range of both social and personal benefits. Animal-assisted therapy has vast benefits targeting patients with diverse complications from children, army veterans, and other patients. Today, AAT applies in the treatment of patients with learning disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorders, aphasia, autism, cerebral palsy, and behavioral disorders, among other treatments (Karlberg & Eriksson, 2020, p. 23). Therefore, this has promoted animal-assisted therapy in hospitals, counseling centers, nursing homes, among other places leading to its prominence.
Use of animal-assisted therapy in physical and cognitive therapy
Animal-assisted therapy in healthcare denotes any human-animal interventions with the primary goal of improving the physical and cognitive issues, among other problems. The use of AAT in the therapeutic treatment of patients with physical and cognitive issues is currently widespread. In physical therapies, animals provide physical aids to humans. For example, therapeutic horseback riding, while therapy dogs are widely used with persons having impaired visions for mobility purposes. Animal-assisted therapy, especially dog-assisted therapy, has widely been used in treating cognitive disorders such as impaired judgment, memory loss, and confusion, among other issues (Hudson, 2016, p. 57). Additionally, interactions between humans and animals can increase some brain chemicals, which in turn cause a person to relax. This therapeutic intervention consequentially reduces anxiety in patients to make a more rational judgment and thought processes. Therefore, patients with physical and cognitive issues have benefited from AAT treatments.
Hudson, N. J. (2016). Animal-assisted therapy and the effects on anxiety and behavioral symptoms for geriatric patients living in a facility.
Karlberg, S., & Eriksson, H. (2020). Animal assisted interventions – Professionals embrace the power of the dog. Klickerförlaget Göteborg AB.
(n.d.). OpenSIUC | Southern Illinois University Carbondale Research. https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1551&context=gs_rp