A paw-fect way to aid rehabilitation

Posted: February 5 2016

They say a dog is a man’s best friend but one pet is going the extra mile to boost patient recovery.

A paw-fect way to aid rehabilitation

Staff at Danesbury Neurological Rehabilitation Centre welcome their new member of staff, Mungo the therapy dog, together with Mary Wilson.

Mungo, a two-year-old Golden Retriever, is becoming a familiar face among patients and staff at Danesbury Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, in Welwyn.

Visiting once a week with his owner Mary Wilson, he is the first therapy dog to grace the rehabilitation unit as part of Pets as Therapy (PAT) – a national charity with volunteers registered to share their time and their pets with people in need.

Alison Wiesner, Occupational Therapy Lead at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, said: “Our patients all have neurological difficulties, mostly caused by stroke, and the effects can be physical or cognitive. By authorising the use of a therapy dog, we hope to be able to aid their recovery in a variety of different ways.

“We will be assisting patients to stroke, groom, walk or throw a ball to Mungo in the gym – this can help with physical rehabilitation especially if there is a loss of mobility.

“If anyone has difficulties with speech or thinking processes, we may suggest they call Mungo from across the room, name parts of his body or give him certain commands such as to sit or stay.

“We are delighted that Mary has agreed to bring Mungo for an hour a week, and although very new to us all he is already making a great impression.”

The decision about the suitability for a dog to be in the patient’s environment will be completed on an individual risk assessment by clinical staff.

Mary is no stranger to sharing her pets for others to enjoy. Her inspiration first came about when taking the dogs to visit her housebound mum.

She said: “It really lifted my mum’s spirit to interact with the dogs. She got so much enjoyment out of them which made me think of how they could help others.

“I found out about PAT and registered my first dog Rhuari. They matched him with a care home, original based in Knebworth and later moved to Stevenage, which he visited for seven years before I retired him.

“A dog can bring so much enjoyment into your life and when Mungo visits people at Dansebury he gets a great response.”

Before a dog can be registered with PAT, they must have been with their owner for at least six months, be over nine months old and be able to pass a temperament assessment.

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