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Animal therapy eases post-surgery pain

them. But she married someone who wanted a dog, and, over time, she began to see the ben- efits of animal-human interaction. “I was doing catastrophic case


management at the time,” says Havey. “When I saw a life-altering event—an illness or accident— I started thinking, ‘Maybe an animal could help people get through.’” According to a recent study,

she was right. Havey is lead author of an LUHS/Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing study indicating that patients who receive animal-assisted therapy while recovering from total joint-replacement surgery require significantly less pain medication than those who do not. “We had tons of anecdotal

stories, but I wanted to be able to do something that’s quantifiable,” Havey says. The animal-assisted therapy

ulia Havey (MSN ‘12), RN, CCM, didn’t have dogs growing up. In fact, she was afraid of

Julia Havey (MSN ‘12), pictured above with therapy dog Linus, is lead author of a new study indicating that patients who receive animal-assisted therapy while recovering from surgery require less pain medication than those who do not.

consisted of daily visits from specially trained dogs for an average of five to 15 minutes. The groups of patients were similar in age, gender, ethnicity, length of stay, and type of total joint replacement. The results? The need for oral pain medication was 28 percent less in the animal- assisted therapy group. “The animal-human connection is powerful in reducing stress and in

generating a sense of well-being,” Havey says. “This study further dem- onstrates the positive influence animals can have on human recovery.” The study was co-authored by Fran Vlasses, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF,

FAAN, associate professor and chair of Health Systems, Leadership and Policy Department, at the Niehoff School of Nursing. In addition to her research, Havey has trained more than 20 puppies

to be assistance dogs for people with disabilities through her work with the nonprofit organization Canine Companions for Independence.

FALL 2014



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