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Carolyn Tassini, PT, DPT, is confident in her skills as a physical therapist (PT). Still, she says, she always welcomes a little help, and she really appreciates assistance from her friend Seamus.

Therapy Animals

Seamus, she explains, is a highly trained therapy dog who's played a role in her work for the better part of 8 years. The golden retriever and Labrador mix was bred and initially raised, with the help of a volunteer, through Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California.

CCI matches most of its dogs with individuals with disabilities, but some, like Seamus, are trained as "facility dogs" and are placed with professionals in a variety of settings. Early in her career, Tassini worked on the neurology floor at Massachusetts General Hospital and watched as a woman with a severe brain injury emerged from an extended period of nonresponsiveness during a visit from a therapy dog.

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  1. Types of service animals. CerebralPalsy.org. https://www.cerebralpalsy.org/information/service-animals/types-service-animals. Accessed July 25, 2019.
  2. Hosey MM, Jaskulski J, Wegner ST, et al. Animal-assisted intervention in the ICU: a tool for humanization. Critical Care. 2018;22(22). DOI 10.1186/s13054-018-1946-8.
  3. Handlin L, Nilsson A, Lidfors L, et al. The effects of a therapy dog on the blood pressure and heart rate of older residents in a nursing home. Anthrozoos. 2018;31(5). DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1505268.
  4. Nepps P, Stewart CN, Bruckno SR. Animal-assisted activity: effects of a complementary intervention program on psychological and physiological variables. J. Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2014;19(3):211-215. DOI 10.1177/2156587214533570.
  5. Calcaterra V, Veggiotti P, Palestrini C, et al. Post-operative benefits of animal assisted therapy in pediatric surgery: a randomized study. PLos One. 2015;10(6). DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0215813.
  6. Calvo P, Fortuny JR, Guzman S, et al. Animal assisted therapy (AAT) program as a useful adjunct to conventional psychosocial rehabilitation for patients with schizophrenia: results of a small-scale randomized control. Front Psychol. 2016. DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00631.

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