Benefits of pet therapy | News
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS)- If you have a pet you know they can make you happier. But more and more research is showing they can make you healthier as well! A program at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. is proving how vital man's best friend can be.
"Pet therapy is known historically to decrease blood pressure, decrease anxiety, help with motivation, decrease pain," said Dr. Heidi Hunter, the medical director of inpatient rehab at Saint Francis.
"He makes me feel better when he's laying beside me on the bed," said Annie McCormick or Poplar Bluff, Mo. who is a patient in the rehab center. "I don't hurt as bad when he's with me."
Dr. Hunter brings her 4-year-old golden retriever, Buddy, to Saint Francis to work with McCormick and other patients as part of the hospital's pet therapy program.
"I tried multiple medication, I tried ice. Just really nothing worked." said Dr. Hunter. "The first day she met Buddy she just connected with him. It's like she doesn't have pain for that 30 minutes," Dr. Hunter added.
Saint Francis works with the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri to bring in other volunteers and pets as well to visit with rehab patients.
"He may chase the ball that they throw with their affected side, they may brush him, they may just talk about him, they may walk him, Dr. Hunter said.
Sandra Dare of Jonesboro, Illinois began rehab at Saint Francis after suffering a stroke. Her husband, Matt, is amazed by the affects of pet therapy.
"When my wife first started she was semi unconscious and when buddy would come in it sort of woke her up," Matt said.
"When you're not feeling so well, it kind of makes things better," Sandra added.
Now Sandra works with Buddy weekly, improving her coordination, speech and memory. Matt has felt the benefits too. "He comes up and wants me to pet him and hold him and he sits there and it just relieves a lot of stress on a person," Matt said.
Inpatient rehab manager, Jessica Hanna, says it's a benefit that can be felt by all. "Just sort of brightens the whole department staff and patients alike," Hanna said.
Dr. Hunter hopes to eventually expand the pet therapy program at Saint Francis Medical Center. She says patients who have pets at home will be able to enjoy the benefits with their own pets when they leave Saint Francis.
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