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|11-14-2004, 08:34 PM||#1|
YT 6000 Club Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Seattle, WA
[News] Japan Hospital Introduces Animal Therapy
MIZUNAMI — Animal therapy, the use of animals in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients, is popular in Japan though limited to facilities for the aged and handicapped.
But a hospital in central Gifu Prefecture has introduced it.
Ookute Hospital, specializing in mental and nervous diseases in the city of Mizunami, has introduced animal therapy as part of a prefectural government project promoting such therapy.
Takayuki Kumasaka, an assistant with the nursing faculty of Shizuoka Prefectural University, is acting as a coordinator in the project and has begun verifying the therapy's effects.
Kumasaka has been carrying out research into the therapy, which involves contact between the patients and animals. But as animals contract infections and as some patients have allergies to them, he has been using a robot shaped like a seal and other toys in his study.
A volunteer group of dog lovers in Gifu Prefecture is helping Kumasaka by offering 10 dogs, including a golden retriever, a midget Shiba and a Yorkshire terrier.
One day, 22 patients in ages from 25 to 72 — nine men and 13 women — took part in the therapy. Fifteen others saw how the therapy was conducted.
When contact with the dogs began, laughter rose here and there in the room. Some patients pressed their cheeks against dogs, embraced them tightly and did not want to leave them. Others were pleased when the dogs licked them.
The participants were asked to rate their feelings before and after the therapy — ranging from 1 for "best feelings," 10-11 for "ordinary feelings" and 20 for "worst feelings."
At the same time, doctors checked the patients' temperatures, blood pressure and pulses.
The average rating before the therapy was 7.8. Afterward, it improved to 4.0. Temperatures and blood pressure were unchanged, but patient pulse rates decreased from 83.6 to 79.7 beats per minute.
"There was almost no physiological change, but the decrease in pulse rates can be judged as reflecting emotional stability and great peace of mind," Kumasaka said.
"There are many patients in the hospital seeking contact with animals," Kumasaka said. (Kyodo News)