Tag Archives: AAT

Animal-assisted therapy: less pain medication required

Patients recovering from total joint replacement surgery who receive animal-assisted therapy (AAT) require less pain medication than those who do not experience this type of therapy.  AAT has been used in a variety of healthcare settings to improve quality of life and physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive health for patients.

Lazer, a Sheltie, is a Northwest Community Healthcare animal-assisted therapy dog.  He is shown with his handler Dr. Don Lang, DVM.

Lazer, a Sheltie, is a Northwest Community Healthcare animal-assisted therapy dog. He is shown with his handler Dr. Don Lang, DVM.

This retrospective study measured the need for oral pain medication in patients who were exposed to animal-assisted therapy and those who were not. The groups were similar in age, gender, ethnicity, length of stay and type of total joint replacement. The animal-assisted therapy consisted of daily visits from specially trained dogs for an average of five to 15 minutes. The need for oral pain medication was significantly less (28 percent less) in the animal-assisted therapy group (15.32 mg versus 21.16 mg).

This study offers interesting observations about the healing potential of animals,” said Fran Vlasses, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, co-author and associate professor and chair, Health Systems, Leadership and Policy Department, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “The efficacy of animal-assisted therapy in decreasing the need for pain medication and its effect on patient well-being after surgery deserves further study.”

These data were published in the August/September issue of Anthrozoos by researchers from Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and Loyola University Health System. Anthrozoos is the official journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology.

Source:  Loyola Medicine media release

Journal details:

Julia Havey, Frances R. Vlasses, Peter H. Vlasses, Patti Ludwig-Beymer, Diana Hackbarth. The Effect of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Pain Medication Use After Joint Replacement. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 2014; 27 (3): 361 DOI: 10.2752/175303714X13903827487962