The Friborg Hospital (HFR) is a pioneer in animal therapy. Six months ago, a Labrador joined the team of physiotherapists at Riaz hospital. The practice remains relatively rare in a hospital environment, while the benefits are numerous and the constraints rather limited.
That day, Dubaï, a three-year-old Labrador who joined the team of physiotherapists at Riaz hospital (FR), knows his mission like the back of his hand. Like the reward that awaits him next.
The presence of the dog makes it possible to increase the motivation of the patients while reducing their level of stress, as confirmed by Eliane Piller, prone to balance problems. “I fell five times this year. With Dubai, it gives me the strength not to fall”, she explained Wednesday in the 12:45 of RTS.
Five patients per day
On average, Dubai participates in therapy for five patients per day, interspersed with phases of rest. It was his mistress who convinced the hospital and his colleagues to embark on the adventure six months ago.
“The first question I ask my patients is if they like dogs and if they are interested in doing two or three exercises with Dubai”, underlines Valérie Currat, physiotherapist at Riaz hospital and mistress of Dubai. “Limits are in the best interests of the patient; otherwise, there aren’t that many limits. You just have to have an eye on Dubai and be very careful with the patient.”
Common practice in the USA
Numerous studies confirm the benefits of working with animals. Incorporating them into therapies in hospitals is also a very widespread practice in the United States.
In Switzerland, it remains much rarer while the constraints are very limited, as explained by André Laszlo, head of the geriatrics department at the HFR in Riaz. “You need therapists who like to work with dogs. That’s basically it. You also need to have a dog that is well trained to work with elderly patients in this case, because this is a geriatric ward.”
Dog-assisted therapy brings benefits on several levels. On the physical and sensory levels, but also on the cognitive and psychological levels.