Hi my name's Cara. I wrote a research paper about animal therapy and it's benefits for my ENG 102 class. I know my paper is going to need review on grammar and sentence flow as well as MLA formatting. I'm unfortunately the run on sentence queen and it can get past my reading eyes. I'm also worried there might be a some repetition.
I'd really appreciate your help and guidance. It is kind of urgent however I cannot figure out how label this thread that. I apologize also it is long in comparison to some post I have seen.
Thanks for your time!
Animal Therapy: Man's Best Friend and Medicine
New illnesses, disorders and diseases are being discovered every single day in our advanced world of technology and science. To counteract these discoveries doctors and researchers fight for the growing human race to find new medicine, therapies, and solutions for these illnesses. As humans evolve through life and time it is essential for survival to accept new solutions that are unfamiliar but effective. Animal assisted therapy is an example of a research proven effective therapy that is often times over looked but has been helping people heal for many years. Animal assisted therapy consists of a trained animal being used as a catalyst for healing in many different areas. Therapy animals are used in mental and physical therapy. Recent studies have shown that animal assisted therapies can also being used to promote physiological healing as well. Unfortunately because this form of therapy is currently unconventional and unfamiliar it is often pushed aside as a form of recreation. Animal assisted therapy should be available to patients healing physically or mentally throughout healthcare institutions because studies have shown that this alternative form of therapy decreases state level stress and anxiety test scores, increases oxytocin hormone production, and decreases patients' blood pressure and heart rates while increasing patients overall morale while in treatment.
In multiple studies patients and individuals who participate in animal assisted therapy show decreases from preliminary stress and anxiety levels measured through state level stress and anxiety test scores. Research conducted by Dr. Sandra B. Baker of the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College, found that psychiatric patients who participated in a session of animal therapy in place of therapy group had a greater decrease in anxiety and stress levels. The study used the state level anxiety and stress test, "The state scale, which measures the level of anxiety felt at the present time, has been found to be sensitive to changes in transitory anxiety experienced by patients in mental health treatment. The inventory consists of 20 items related to feelings of apprehension, nervousness, tension, and worry." (Baker) Therapy in psychiatric hospitals in combination with medication is a common treatment plan for individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety or stress as well as psychotic disorders. Unfortunately therapy can have its disadvantages such as resistance to participate for fear of judgment, fear of re-experiencing trauma, and unwillingness to participate. The natural human-animal bond that has been present since the beginning of time brings patients comfort and ease when required to participate in therapy sessions. Dr. Baker's research found that, "The reduction in anxiety scores for patients with psychotic disorders was twice as great after animal-assisted therapy as after therapeutic recreation." (Baker)
Stress is a factor that can affect many individuals in our current world not just healthcare institutions thus making animal assisted therapy more widely available a logical choice for people to alleviate stress. Finding ways to relieve stress is important for our mental and physical health. Many jobs in our current society are high stress, parents can suffer from higher stress levels, and even students are greatly affected by stress. Surveys conducted by the National College Health Assessment found that "...more than 50% of students reported feeling "exhausted", "lonely", "sad" and/or "overwhelming anxiety," and 86% reported that they "felt overwhelmed by all [they] had to do." (American College Health Association, 13-14)." (Bell) Allison Bell, manager of Research & Reference Unit at the Gerstein Science Information Centre University of Toronto set up an animal therapy program at one of the universities busiest and largest libraries used predominately by medical students. The response from this program was extremely positive. Student surveys' came back with positive responses requesting to participate in the animal therapy programs again, enjoying the experience, and feeling less stressed than before the animal therapy session. Studies such as these have proven to several institutions "the correlation between their stressed-out students and the benefits derived from therapy animals and have implemented programs to integrate the two." (Bell) It is undeniable stress and anxiety will always be a part of our world and accepting alternative effective solutions such as animal therapy is essential for our health and wellbeing.
The effects of animal therapy on the body can be seen not only by the outside indicators such as smiles, or laughter but also by changes in the body's physiological level. The relationship between humans and animals is complex and deep. Each relies on one another and each benefit from the relationship. This relationship is what gives animal assisted therapy the ability to help in the treatment of patients. Rebecca Johnson, heading the research for the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine, has found that in, "More recently... studies have been focusing on the fact that interacting with animals can increase people's level of the hormone oxytocin." (Rovner) Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland. It contributes to feeling "happy" as well as the feelings one gets when bonding with another being such as a human or animal. Studies on how oxytocin affects the body has shown that, "Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body's ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier." (Rovner) Animal therapy's ability to increase the body's ability to heal and increase positive hormone production without drug therapy is one of the most important reasons this therapy should be integrated into the healthcare field as an equal and prevalent form of medicine.
Psychologist and psychiatrist have an increased chance of helping their patients heal mentally by having animals present during treatment. The minds ability to heal comes at the unconscious willingness of the patient to open their thoughts and most intimate secrets to individuals who start as strangers. Psychologist have found that in particular children who have animals present during therapy session are prone to share more given the comfort they feel from having the animal present. Aubrey H. Fine, clinical psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic University, has found through personal experience and research that, ""animals help a clinician go under the radar of a child's consciousness, because the child is much more at ease and seems to be much more willing to reveal..."" (Rovner) Often time patients who need to see mental healthcare professions have been through something traumatic at some point that is debilitating their quality of life and health. Unfortunately patients are not always willing to or even have the mental or emotional capacity to put these issues on the table to be dicussed and resolved. Animal therapy can be used as a catalyst to easing the anxiety one might feel when revealing ones most traumatic moments even if those memories are not even present to the patient. In the Foreword of the, Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, Stanley Coren, of the University of British Columbia, stated that
"...When the patient is getting near to uncovering the source of their problem there is often a 'resistance phase', as if the person was trying to defend themselves from the psychological pain and deep emotions that exposing their repressed trauma might cause...patients might become hostile or stop actively participating in therapy...Freud's impression was that the expression of this resistance was much less vigorous when the dog was in the room." (Fine. xvi-xvii)
Although the godfather of psychology, Dr. Sigmund Freud, believed in the benefits of animal therapy many mental healthcare providers still do not have animal-assisted therapy available in their practice. It is imperative that patients undergoing psychoanalytical therapy have the option in partake in animal assisted therapy if it has the potential to increase their chance of healing.
There are many factors that contribute to a healthy body and mind. Sustaining healthy blood pressure levels and heart rates is imperative for humans to have healthy functional lives. Studies have shown animal assisted therapy causes physiological changes in the body that promote decreased blood pressure and heart rates. It is essential for healthy living to maintain healthy blood pressure and heart rates. If ones blood pressure and heart rates are at unhealthy levels healthcare providers must do everything they can to regulate them. Drug therapy or medication is the most common form of treatment for individuals who suffer from irregular heart rate and blood pressure levels. However, Dr. Odendaal of the Life Sciences Research Institution in Pretoria, South Africa, found through research that, "...The following aspects should be considered... a significant decrease in blood pressure and thus all the other physiological effects can be achieved between 5 and 24 min of positive dog interaction." (Odendaal) Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and heart rates for inpatients is relatively manageable while in the hospital. Patients are monitored around the clock and administered medication by the hour. Unfortunately patients cannot be monitored around the clock for the span of their lives. Patients will leave to their homes once stable and maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart rates can be difficult to do given the many outside factors that can affect the body at home. Stressful situations that occur at home can increase both blood pressure and heart rates. Animal assisted therapy or even having a pet in the home can help regulate the production of hormones that cause one to feel stressed, which in turn helps maintain healthy blood pressure and heart rate levels. Dr. Karen Allen of the State University of New York of Buffalo conducted a study that replaced increasing medication and using animal assisted therapy as forms of treatment to regulate heart rate and blood pressure levels of individuals currently taking medication to decrease high levels. Dr. Allen found that individuals who kept animals in the home, particularly dogs, were able to keep blood pressure levels regulated even through stressful situations. Patients often grow tired of having to increase medication intake because many people in our society are unhappy having to take the multiple pharmaceuticals they are already on to begin with. Medical can be very expensive and remember instructions that come with medication can be frustrating. For cardiac patients animal assisted therapy can help patients maintain heart rate levels without increasing medications. Dr. Allen found that, "Physiologically, pets had greater influence on sympathetic responses than did ACE inhibition alone." (Allen) Meaning animal therapy in combination with medication can be more effective at keeping patients heart rates regulated than increasing medication intake. Giving patients the ability to choose animal therapy over an increase in medication is a logical choice given it can decrease cost, decrease blood pressure and heart rates, and increase overall health of the patient.
Although there is scientific evidence proving animal assisted therapy causes positive changes in one's body to heal both physically and mentally, one cannot deny the obvious changes in demeanor of patients after interaction with the animals. Mary Lou Jennings, coordinator of the Animal-Assisted Therapy program at Phoenix Children's Hospital recounts numerous incidences of animal therapy affecting patients in positive ways. Patients come in to the Phoenix Children's Hospital for a variety of illnesses. Phoenix Children's is one of the best children's hospitals in the country with a variety of specialties including cardiac and heart surgery, neonatology, neurology and neurosurgery, as well as rehabilitation services. Although being in the hospital as an adult is difficult, being in a hospital as a child is a fear that one would not be able to describe. Child patients are often surrounded by strangers who are approaching them with needles, medication, and cold equipment all of which is unpleasant and terrifying in the eyes of a child. Programs like the animal- assisted therapy program help bring children back to reality and out of a nightmare that is a hospital room. Mrs. Jennings has found that "Frequently parent's response [to animal therapy] is usually pleading for the animal therapist to come back the next day because before we came to help, the child was unresponsive, emotionally taken back, and wouldn't do anything." (Jennings) Being able to initiate patients subconsciously to participating in the healing process is what makes animal therapy programs effective. Patients across the state and country go to Phoenix Children's Hospital for a variety of reasons. The hospital runs the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center where unfortunately many children are seen for severe level injuries. Animal assisted therapy plays a great part in the trauma center. Mrs. Jennings recounts multiple incidences where animal therapy has given hope to patients and doctors who provide the first line of care for pediatric trauma patients, "The most memorizing experience in animal therapy is those of patients who have suffered from brain traumas. Our therapy dogs are brought in to evoke patients to acknowledge the presence of the dog thus making it clear to doctors and families that the child is responsive and cognitively present even if they can't lift their arms or squeeze hands." (Jennings) Animal assisted therapy is used through the entire hospital as a tool to help patients in any way possible. Patients who have suffered from traumatic injuries with likely have to use rehabilitation to get back to life as they know as normal. The animal assisted therapy program at Phoenix Children's is used often with the rehabilitation patients who need the extra support to get through the difficult yet regarding experience rehab therapy can be. Acting as a crutch animal therapy can help patients push though difficult tasks such as, "...starting at being only at the physical captivity to sit up to asking the child to take a step while walking a dog." (Jennings) These types of healing experiences can be available to everyone if animal assisted therapy was an option for all hospitals and patients.
Although that are many counts of animal assisted therapy helping patients and research proving the positive effects on the body, the work is not over. Research must continue so that animal assisted therapy can grow and prosper in the healthcare field. Research is being conducted at Phoenix Children's Hospital to provide scientific replicable research that proves the animal therapy program makes a difference in the care of patients. Although often times animal therapy can be associated with recreation Mrs. Jennings ensures that, "Our goal is to make the animal visit as therapeutic as possible. We ensure to communicate with medical staff of the needs of our therapy animals whether that is getting the child to smile or lift an arm by playing fetch with a dog." (Jennings) It is important to remember that patients who are seeing doctors for physical problems with the body need to also be evaluated mentally. Patients must be in the right mind set to heal. Negative thoughts and being uncomfortable mentally weakens the body's' ability to fully absorb treatment. Mary Lou Jennings has found animal therapy changes the course of healing by promoting positive association in children's mind;
"We believe patients specifically children relate their experience to horrible situations such as my mother crying, physical pain, or strangers touching and talking to me. However animal therapy has the ability to change the negative association with the hospital that debilitates healing. Animal therapy creates a spark in a child that changes the course of healing. Our research being conducted will hopefully prove the psychological changes that occur to create that spark." (Jennings)
One cannot deny that when used animal-assisted therapy it in many ways causes patients to heal more efficiently. Denying patients the right to health care that is efficient because it is unorthodox is wrong.
The research and patient experience speaks for itself. Animal assisted therapy is helping thousands of people heal in ways doctors and nurses cannot. The amount of people that need this form of therapy far outweigh the number of programs available by far. The only way to increase the number of programs is to stand up and voice desire for this form of therapy. The world of medicine and therapy must grow as our society is ever evolving and expanding. It is essential for survival to accept new and developing treatments to keep up with the ever growing list of illnesses, diseases, and disorders that are brought to light each and every day. Animal assisted therapy programs are generally volunteer based and are extremely cost effective. If healthcare providers could help patients heal psychologically, while also making them feel good mentally at close to no cost, the question is why they would not?