Writing in the current issue of the journal Anthrozoos, researchers from Loyola University have published findings that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can help patients recovering from total joint replacement surgery to be less reliant on pain medications. AAT has been used in a variety of health-care settings to improve quality of life and physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive health for patients.
This retrospective study measured the need for oral pain medication in patients who were exposed to animal-assisted therapy and those who were not. The groups were similar in age, gender, ethnicity, length of stay and type of total joint replacement. The animal-assisted therapy consisted of daily visits from specially trained dogs for an average of five to 15 minutes. The AAT group was found to require significantly less oral pain medication, according to the researchers. Read a news story about the findings here.