The inclusion of pets into hospital and rehabilitation environments has long been considered very therapeutic, and pets continue to be an important part of life long after rehabilitation has ended. This is true for people with a brain injury, and the wider community.
A pet can offer acceptance, love and motivation through the most difficult parts of rehabilitation and recovery after a brain injury. Pets are very good companions and help people feel less lonely. They also respond with feedback which can negate inappropriate behaviours, and interest in a pet may redirect egocentricity that may arise from frontal lobe injuries.
Apart from companionship, pets can be trained, much like the more familiar Seeing Eye dogs, to perform tasks and assist persons with disabilities in many different ways.
Selecting a pet can be turned into a cognitive exercise of planning. The choice of a pet should be fun, not fraught with discord. It’s important to consider all options e.g. a sophisticated set up of aquariums with pumps and filters may be too complex for some.
Almost everyone loves animals. This often enhances social skills building for individuals when encountering others in the park, neighbourhoods and other places people congregate with pets. Have you ever been able to pass without noticing or striking up a conversation with someone sitting on a park bench with a colourful, exotic bird perched on his or her shoulder? Pets are great conversation pieces.
Individuals with severe brain injury and other impairing conditions often have little control over their lives. Owning a pet can provide an opportunity for controlling at least one facet of their lives – their pet! Pets always have time for sharing with their owners and their loyalty is indisputable.
Pet therapy is a well-established routine in many hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centres. The presence of pets appears to be a benefit in all stages of recovery, rehabilitation and even end-stage illnesses.
Dogs are frequently trained to assist individuals with brain injury, particularly those with mobility impairments. Custom-styled saddlebags can be placed on the dog and used for carrying personal items, wallet, daily journal and other items needed by those using wheelchairs and/or other assisting devices that increase mobility. (Synapse.org)