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Animal Assisted Therapy

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In animal assisted therapy sessions, specially trained animals, such as horses or dogs, help children achieve their rehabilitation goals in collaboration with their therapist.  Working with animals can be highly motivating for some children and may turn into a lifelong recreational activity.

Specific goals addressed in animal-assisted therapy sessions for children with hemiplegia may include:

  • Practice of sustained grasp of the horse’s bridle or dog’s leash
  • Self-care skills such as brushing and washing the animal
  • Sitting balance and trunk strength to maintain balance on a saddle
  • Practice of transitions on/off of the horse can help improve climbing in other environments, such as the playground
  • Ball skills for playing fetch with a dog

At Kennedy Krieger’s constraint and bimanual therapy program, therapy dogs visit and assist with therapy sessions.  Read a story in Potential magazine about animal assisted therapy at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

For more information on therapeutic horseback riding (hippotherapy) centers, please click here.

    If you have a topic or questions that you would like the Helping Hands blog to address, please email HelpingHands@kennedykrieger.org.

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