A Physical Therapist specializes in helping children to develop and enhance their mobility so they can safely particpate in activiteis in the community, school and at home. Specifically, they work on:

  1. Building strength
  2. Building flexibility
  3. Building endurance
  4. Balance and coordination
  5. Mobility (crawl, walk, use a walker, orthotics or wheelchair, ride a bike, etc.)
  6. Developmentally appropriate movement patterns (sit, stand, jump, throw, etc.)
  7. Functional energy efficient movement (transitioning from sit to stand, getting in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, etc.)
  8. Sensory input to improve neuro-motor development (swinging, trampoline activities, moving on a variety of textured surfaces, heavy load activities,  etc.)

How do the dogs help in physical therapy? 

As a physical therapist, I have had several patients who have made significant progress toward their functional mobility and strength goals because of the Dustin’s Paw dogs.

One little girl I work with has great difficulty with attention, making it difficut for her to stick with activities long enough to gain strength and endurance. As much as I might try to cajole and sing and do antics to keep her attention, the truth is that she is much more interested in our furry, four-legged friends, Prairie and Ovelle. One activity that we do for building strength and endurance is pedaling the modified tricycle. When this little girl is working with a therapist alone, she is not able to maintain pedaling action for more than about 15 feet at a time. However, when she is chasing the dogs, she can pedal 1/2 block down the sidewalk with nothing mroe than steering assistance from her physical therapist!

Another patient is a young boy who has had years of therapy and really has to work to move around, so he knows every strategy for avoiding maximal effort. There are many times when he is not about to chase a friend or toy or therapist down the hall, but when Prairie and Ovelle get involved, watch out! Recently, this little boy was balking at propelling the floor scooter down the hall. He was quite determined not to give in to the enticement of his ipad, nor to chasing the dogs . . . but when the dogs started playing with his ipad, he just had to get down the hall to take a turn on the fishing game! – Therese Girard, Physical Therapist

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