Using Animals to Improve Healthcare

May 7th, 2015 by admin

Using Animals to Improve Healthcare  We assume people are the ones caring for animals and keeping them healthy, but the roles may actually be reversed. Animals provide a wealth of health benefits and they are transforming the healthcare system. Four-legged companions are used for therapy, illness detection, and for disability assistance. The relationship people have with animals has a direct impact on physical and mental health. Now, many doctors are using animals to improve health for their patients. What are the Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions? People and animals share an unexplainable bond. The unique bond is the very essence of the success of animal-human relationships that improve healthcare. Florence Nightingale herself believed in the ability of animals to provide social support for mentally ill patients. Recent studies show that human and animal interactions may reduce blood pressure, provide a calming effect, increase physical activity, and may have an impact on allergies and asthma. A University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine study revealed animal-human interactions increase a person’s oxytocin level. Animals are not only used for therapeutic purposes, many are trained to serve as eyes for the blind, to detect certain cancers, ease pain, to predict seizures, and some are used for medical research. Ways in Which Animal-Human interactions Improve Healthcare Animals in healthcare settings have a history that dates back over 150 years. Whether at home or in a healthcare setting, animals may vastly improve the overall health of patients.
  • Temporary companions
These 4-legged companions are ones used to provide temporary relationships for patients with mental or physical concerns, and for elderly people. Companionship provides patients with socialization opportunities, focus and interactions, mental stimulation, and companions relieve loneliness among certain individuals.
  • Assistance or service animals
Many dogs are specifically trained to accompany patients with disabilities. Disabilities include physical, mental, intellectual, sensory, or psychiatric disabilities, as well as visible and invisible disabilities. For an animal to be considered a service animal, a link between the animal’s service and its handler’s disability must be present.
  • Horse therapy
Horses play an important role in helping people with disabilities. Not only do horses provide therapeutic support and comfort, the act of riding a horse provides patients with physical benefits as well. Physical benefits of riding horses include core strength, body awareness, physical conditioning, muscle stimulation, and muscle memory.
  • Animals detect illnesses
Recent studies reveal an interesting link between animals and illness detection. Some studies suggest animals can be used to detect illnesses and warn about imminent medical episodes, such as seizures and heart attacks. Animals are used to detect certain cancers, and to sniff out low blood sugar. As far as medical teams and researchers can tell, the ability to sniff out cancers, predict seizures, and detect low blood pressure may have a direct link to a dog’s ability to sniff out different scents. Researchers suggest a dog may be able to detect scent changes, but more evidence is needed.

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