A new study suggests that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) may help improve social functioning among those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Conducted by a team of researchers based at the University of Basel in Switzerland, the study examined the self-reported moods and treatment satisfaction scores of 19 TBI patients over the course of 200 therapy sessions. Of the 200 sessions, some were animal-assisted and some were not.
Participants of the study expressed almost twice the number of positive emotions when in the presence of animals. Those in assisted sessions also tended to communicate more frequently and expressed higher levels of treatment satisfaction than during conventional therapy sessions.
Interestingly, AAT appeared to have little effect on the expression of negative emotions, such as anger.
“The results suggest that animal-assisted therapy can have a positive effect on the social behavior of patients with brain injuries”
— Dr. Karin Hediger, Principal Investigator & Psychotherapist, University of Basel
For additional information about the study, read the full article in Scientific Reports.