Terry K. Crowe, Suzanne Perea-Burns, Jessica Salazar Sedillo, Ingrid C. Hendrix, Melissa Winkle, Jean Deitz; Effects of Partnerships Between People With Mobility Challenges and Service Dogs. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(2):194-202. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.009324.
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OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of partnerships between people with disabilities and service dogs on functional performance and social interaction.
METHOD. A single-subject, alternating treatment design was used. The participants were 3 women with mobility challenges who owned service dogs. For each participant, time and perceived amount of effort for two tasks were measured for functional performance. Interaction and satisfaction levels were measured for social interactions.
RESULTS. Primary findings were that service dog partnerships decreased performance time for four of the six tasks, decreased effort for five of the six tasks, increased social interactions for 2 of the participants, and increased levels of satisfaction with social interactions for all participants.
CONCLUSION. For adult women with mobility challenges, service dog partnerships may contribute to energy conservation through decreased time and effort required to complete some tasks and may increase social interactions.
Practitioners’ role may include assessing meaningful occupations with which a person would like the service dog’s assistance, evaluating the person’s abilities and needs, and integrating the service dog into the person’s daily life (Winkle & Zimmerman, 2009).
Practitioners may recommend the use of service dogs as an assistive device option for people with disabilities to increase community integration, social interaction, and energy conservation through decreased time and effort required to complete some tasks.
Practitioners can provide modifications to common items such as leashes, dog doors, or feeding equipment to assist the person in caring for the service dog (Winkle & Zimmerman, 2009).
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