Therapists Publishes Study Quantifying Animal-Assisted Therapy - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC in the News

Published on July 25, 2007

RIC Therapists Publishes Study Quantifying Animal-Assisted Therapy

Erica, an RIC patient, visits with Len the therapy dog

Brienne Costa, CTRS, BSc, director of the RIC Recreational Therapy Department, conducted a feasibility study on the impact of animal-assisted therapy on patient ambulation in 2006, will have the study published in the American Journal of Recreation Therapy in July.

Currently, the idea of assistive dogs benefiting patients through animal-assisted therapy is only anecdotally supported. RIC’s pilot study was an attempt at measuring the therapeutic effects of dogs on a quantifiable level by recording patients’ distance, time and speed when walking. The pilot study identified a positive trend that animal assisted therapy will help patients walk farther distances at a faster pace. Researchers will develop the protocols for a secondary study to quantify the results of this trend.

“We saw a lot of positive outcomes when using the dogs in the adult therapy sessions but we didn’t have any hard data to support the outcomes,” said Costa, “This study provides a good basis for continuing to look at and measure the benefits of animal-assisted therapies for patients.”

The study was conducted at RIC with the assistance of Chenney Troupe, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to providing dogs and volunteers for animal-assisted therapy. Long-time RIC volunteer Joe Frey, who co-wrote the study, has been volunteering at RIC with Cheney Troop since 1992.

To see RIC’s animal therapy in action, follow this link  to view the story that appeared on WMAQ NBC Ch.5 News.

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is dedicated to helping people with all levels and types of physical disabilities live a fulfilling life. U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIC the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” every year since 1991. RIC operates a flagship hospital in Chicago as well as a network of DayRehabCenters and outpatient centers located throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. It also maintains strategic alliances with other healthcare providers throughout the state of Illinois and north central Indiana. For more information, visit the RIC Web site at

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