If we speak of Pet Therapy, it is necessary to mention the Niguarda Hospital in Milan. In this large and important Milanese hospital there is the Spinal Unit; a particular department where very special doctors work. We refer to them as pets.
Their names are Happy and Angel, and they deal with physiotherapy. They are two magnificent honey and chocolate coloured Labradors. Two experienced human pet therapists lead these two exceptional animal doctors. The unusual medical team, thanks to an incredible synergy, records surprising results.
In this medical unit, patients in wheelchairs wait in the gym every day for the arrival of the two "doctors", who have assisted their patients for 10 years now. Happy and Angel are accompanied by Patrizia Spada, the responsible pet therapist of the Dog4Life Association, as well as Alessandra De Fronzo with the Belgian shepherd malinois Alinghi and Enzo Panelli, the first pet therapist in a wheelchair with his sweet black Labrador.
This unique group of therapists take care with constancy and love of the numerous victims of motor vehicle or sports accidents as well as accidents in the workplace. The physiotherapy applied aims to restore the mobility of the trunk and limbs. The exercises that benefit all patients are simple, games which provide great help, day after day, to patients with mobility problems.
They games range from the launch of the ball to that of the Frisbee; to the placement on the ground of treats hidden under overturned cups, and last but very important the paragility path. Each exercise is meticulously designed to reactivate the muscle groups and strengthen them with the interaction of perfectly trained, highly intelligent dogs which are able to create a relaxed atmosphere of affection.
The physiotherapist of the ward Liliana Panigata explained: “This is an integrative therapy that accompanies the regular medical courses, but has the advantage of promoting socialization and creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The dog, with its spontaneity, communicates with them without prejudice, without filters and without seeing the disability in those in front of them. In addition, the patient gradually acquires self-esteem and autonomy in learning how to lead and give commands to an animal. Fatigue becomes pleasure and sweetness dissolves any resistance".
However, this is not the only department where we engage trained animals in daily exercises and rehabilitation therapies. This wonderful practice is spreading more and more, with great benefits for immobilized people. Pet Therapy also bears witness and justice to all animals, underlining their importance and the great wealth of fidelity and love that they know how to give in exchange for just a simple caress...