Logo for the Journal of Rehab R and D

Volume 45 Number 4, 2008
   Pages 489 — 504

Abstract - Effects of assistance dogs on persons with mobility or hearing impairments: A pilot study

Diana H. Rintala, PhD;1-2* Rebeca Matamoros, BS;1-2 Laura L. Seitz, MA1,3

1Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX; Departments of 2Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and 3Otorhinolaryngology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Abstract — Service dogs help persons with mobility impairments by retrieving items and performing other tasks. Hearing dogs alert persons with hearing impairments to environmental sounds. We conducted a pre-post, wait list-controlled pilot study to assess the impact of the dogs on the lives of recipients. Participants were recruited through two assistance dog training organizations and completed an initial questionnaire packet. The Experimental group completed another packet 6 months after receiving a dog. The Control group completed a second packet 6 months after the initial data collection. On average, dog recipients were very satisfied with their assistance dogs. Both service and hearing dog recipients reduced their dependence on other persons. Service dog recipients reduced hours of paid assistance. No other significant change occurred in various standardized outcome measures. Assistance dogs had a major positive impact on the lives of recipients. More appropriate measurement instruments are needed to capture the impact of these dogs.

Key words: assistance, assistance dogs, deaf, disability, hearing, hearing dogs, independence, longitudinal, mobility impairment, rehabilitation, service dogs.

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