Animal-assisted therapy engages patients of all ages and abilities in a range of therapeutic settings.
At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, that job falls to Vandy — a black Labrador retriever who works on our recreational therapy team.
The sweet-natured pup works with recreational therapists to help patients meet specific rehabilitation goals. Her presence alone can lift spirits.
Vandy’s handlers work with physical, occupational and speech-language therapists on a variety of tasks to help patients improve fine and gross motor skills, mobility and endurance as well as cognitive function and emotional well-being.
She encourages patients to walk a little farther and sit up independently. She helps patients practice their speech by giving her verbal commands and improve hand strength by brushing her or throwing her a ball. She even plays cards!
Vandy is the first animal-assisted intervention dog in Michigan trained by PAWS With a Cause, a national non-profit organization based in Wayland, Michigan.
Working with Vandy provides several benefits.
Vandy lives with her primary handler and spends her free time going for walks in the neighborhood, playing in the yard and relaxing.