Doggie Howlser: Mutts in Medicine
There's a Spot on the horizon of health care because medical science is going to the dogs.
While it has long been known that dogs make great companions to the elderly and infirm, dogs are making their mark in the field of diagnostics and treatment.
Research is now being conducted by heath care professionals that may someday make dogs an indispensable part of the medical team.
Early research by Barb McCabe, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division, evolved around therapy dogs in nursing homes. She found that patients, "reach out to dogs" even when they aren't communicating with staff or people.
But can dogs treat disease?
Ongoing studies by Dr. McCabe, and Mara Baun, DNSc., are finding that dogs can also be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimers patients.
These new studies show that dogs are helpful in keeping Alzheimers patient's focused, thereby deceasing relapses in behavior that are caused by confusion.
The American Heart Association (AHA) is also getting dogs to heal.
AHA research revealed that just a 12 minute visit with doggie doctor improved heart and lung function by lowering blood pressure and anxiety in patients with heart conditions.
In the field of diagnostics, dogs are ahead by a nose.
Testimonies of dogs detecting ailments in their owners and saving their lives prompted researchers to find out if cancer sniffed out.
In a study done by Amersham Hospital in the UK, dogs were right on target in detecting the urine of bladder cancer patients.
Another study led by Michael McCulloc , LAc, MPH of the Pine Street Foundation, Ca, showed that in just a matter of weeks ordinary household dogs could be trained to accurately distinguish breath samples of lung and breast cancer patients from those of healthy individuals.
But can dogs smell danger?
Sheila Hakel, the mother of three children with insulin dependent diabetes, says yes.
The Hankel family dog, Meadow has been trained to smell the body chemicals that accompany low blood sugar levels. Since Meadow joined the family, Ms. Hankel has been alerted several times to drops in her children's blood sugar.
While no research has been done to determine the accuracy of diabetes detecting dogs it's only a matter of time before these dogs prove their worthiness as diagnosticians.
How's that for some dog gone great news!
Children and adults with Autism spectrum disorders, including Apserger, find specially trained dogs give them an opportunity to make contact with humans.The dogs are well-behaved social animals who are working dogs in an unique way.
People with social disorders have a hard time reaching out to others. The dogs wear tee-shirts encouraging people to ask the owner about the dog.Then a conversation is started. It's a beautiful thing to see a child come out of their shell.
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