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Dog therapy

Dog therapy

Probitas Foundation begins a pilot program with Vall d'Hebron Hospital (HUVH), Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) and the Center for Assisted Therapies with dogs (CTAC, according to catalan accronyms). Dog Assisted Therapy project aims to improve the quality of life of children with autism spectrum, of the patients with terminal state admitted to Vall d'Hebron University Hospital (HUVH) and that of the children with the fetal alcohol syndrome (SAF) visited the outpatient program of fetal alcohol syndrome Psychiatry. SAF is a chronic disorder caused by excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy that may present several symptoms such as growth retardation, anomalies in facial features, cognitive problems, impulsiveness, a lack of social skills, psychomotor problems, and behavioural disorders.

The project started in March 2018 and the first month will serve to raise awareness of the project throughout the hospital staff. Dogs will be taken to hospital to get in touch with all parts involved in the project as well as beneficiaries family members. The project began in April 2018 and will run for 12 consecutive months, until April 2019 when will be announced the results of this pilot program executed. The therapeutic direction of the project will be carried out by the Psychiatry Department of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital.

The program
The Assisted Therapy project with Hospital Vall d'Hebron Dogs (TAG-HUVH) is considered a prospective study to introduce the services of the animal-assisted therapy (TAA) in the hospital environment to provide services to departments that may benefit from these kinds of activities. The results of the project will allow a sustained implantation of a program of animal-assisted therapies. In this way, its start-up will allow:
  • Study the impact of dog-assisted therapy (TAG) on the quality of life of patients' families.
  • Assess the impact on the life expectancy that TAG will have and the level of medical complications that occur throughout the TAG.
  • To evaluate the impact on the depressive and anxiety clinic, as well as the quality of the sleep.
  • Assess the impact of the TAG conduct disorder, attention, clinical depression, anxiety and quality of sleep in patients with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Currently, the first phase of the project consists of sessions with dogs individually, with a single patient in each session (approximately 30 minutes) and two dogs. And in the second phase, group sessions where two dogs and several patients participate.

The beneficiaries
The main beneficiaries of the pilot test are boys and girls in high complexity clinical situations such as terminally ill patients and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hospitalized in the different maternal area buildings with a long-term average stay. The criteria to be determinate if they can participate they are:

  • Patients with a terminal state admitted to HUVH or children with disorders of the fetal alcohol spectrum visited in the Outpatient Fetal Syndrome Program of the Psychiatry Service.
  • Between 6 and 14 years old.
  • On the other hand, the exclusion criteria that have been set are:
  • Presence of pathology incompatible with the visit.
  • Allergy to dogs.
  • Phobia to dogs

In this way, it is wanted to reach about 140 beneficiaries, but not only children hospitalized will benefit, but also wants to train families. It is estimated that for each child who will receive the therapy four family members will also be benefited in the emotional field.

The entity in charge of the preparation, management and execution of animal-assisted therapy, explains that "dogs become a sensory multi-stimulus capable of attracting the attention and motivation of the patient or the student, facilitating their cooperation and involvement in the therapeutic or educational process". The benefits that stand out are:
  • Work empathy
  • Facilitate a communication channel between the patient and the therapist
  • Promote socialization with the rest of the group
  • Mental and cognitive stimulation
  • Foster concentration
  • Facilitate physical contact

The project has never been done previously with children affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is why it is an innovative study in the field and Probitas and Vall d'Hebron will be pioneers.



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