New Research to Investigate Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy for Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease | HABRI

New Research to Investigate Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy for Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease

Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Grant to Texas Woman’s University

Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2020) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research project to determine the effects of an equine-assisted therapy (EAT) program on the lives of older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, How does 8 weeks of equine-assisted therapy affect older adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?, led by researchers from the Texas Woman’s University School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, will compare bradykinesia severity and functional outcomes before and after 8 weeks of EAT in adults with PD, and characterize the resulting human-animal interaction

“While research studies examining the physiological benefits of horseback riding have been conducted before, there is a lack of published research regarding the physical adaptations of EAT in adults with PD,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, B. Rhett Rigby, PhD, Texas Woman’s University. “We hope that the results of this study will further the efficacy of EAT as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance by healthcare practitioners.”

Thirty men diagnosed with PD, aged 40 to 80 years, will be recruited and randomly assigned into two groups. Fifteen participants will complete eight weeks of EAT, and fifteen participants will complete a similar protocol on a horseback riding simulator. The EAT intervention will contain 17 total sessions across a period of eight weeks, and a licensed physical therapist will oversee and conduct all EAT sessions. A similar protocol will be in place for the simulated riding session. Preliminary data in the form of two pilot studies suggest that an improvement in postural sway and balance is present after both EAT and simulated riding in older adults with balance deficits. The study will seek to determine if these adaptions will lead to improvements with other hallmark features of PD pathophysiology, including bradykinesia, posture, balance, and gait. Researchers expect that individuals participating in the EAT sessions will experience greater decreases in bradykinesia severity compared to those participating in simulated horseback riding and that individuals with PD may experience improvements in skeletal muscle strength at the core and pelvis as a result of this exercise.

“HABRI is proud to fund this important research into the benefits of EAT for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI. “By promoting interaction and engagement with horses, this study has the potential to positively impact an understudied population while fostering human-animal bonds and improving physical and occupational therapy practices.”

“With a greater understanding of the physical effects of equine-assisted therapy for these individuals and greater acceptance by healthcare practitioners, we hope to also see an increase in demand for EAT that will ultimately result in EAT becoming more affordable and accessible,” added Dr. Rigby.

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit www.habri.org.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
HABRI and NAVC Launch New and Improved Human-Animal Bond Veterinary Certification

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) today launched the new-and-improved Human Animal Bond Certified course for veterinarians, veterinary nurses and veterinary practice managers.   Initially launched in 2018, Human Animal Bond Certified has become the one-and-only certification for animal health professionals looking to engage with their clients through the communication and the science of the human-animal bond. With veterinarians and staff in high demand since the pandemic, significant changes have been made to the course, including the addition of new modules on hot topics such as aftercare and access to care. Human Animal Bond Certification will now be offered as a tiered system, with three, six-hour modules to make the course more manageable to complete. Practice certification is also now available.  “The pandemic has not only accelerated the importance of pets in people’s lives, but it has also created more attentive pet owners who want the best care for their pets and who expect to hear from their veterinarians about the human-animal bond,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI President.   “Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 equips veterinarians and their teams with the resources they need to support and acknowledge the human-animal bond.”  “Passion for the human-animal bond is an important driver for veterinary professionals,” said Gene O’Neill, CEO of NAVC. “In helping educate veterinarians and staff about the science of the human-animal bond, Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 is the new gold standard for veterinarians looking to reconnect with their purpose and engage with their clients in a meaningful and effective way.”  Human Animal Bond Certified 2.0 provides veterinarians and staff the tools needed to maintain client relationships and better meet their needs. Program modules focus on the science, communication, community engagement, animal welfare and wellness, and medical care needed...

Press Releases
DC Stands for Dogs and Cats!

Members of Congress have been bringing pets to work since the nation’s founding. A new survey confirms that Capitol Hill remains a very pet-friendly workplace today, with a solid majority of House and Senate offices who responded to the survey saying they welcome pets at work on the Hill. The survey included in-person interviews in House and Senate offices during August, 2017, and was sponsored by Nestlé Purina PetCare and conducted on behalf of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), to call attention to the benefits of pet-friendly workplaces. The Hill survey findings paint a picture of a very pet-friendly workplace: More than 80 percent of the 192 House and Senate offices who responded say they welcome pets in the office, either during recess, while Congress is in session, or both. By comparison, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, just 7% of American workplaces allow pets. The pet-friendly Hill office findings were relatively consistent across party lines, geographic regions, and both chambers, suggesting wide bipartisan support for having pets at work. “The bond we share with pets is something we can all agree on,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina. “We’ve been bringing our own dogs and cats with us to work for decades, because we believe life is better with pets. We know that pets help us de-stress, lower blood pressure, get our exercise, and even forge stronger social connections.” Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI, agrees: “Scientific research shows that pets in the workplace can boost productivity, collaboration and employee satisfaction,” said Feldman. “We hope that more companies and workplaces will follow the lead of Congress to begin to think about pets as a way to boost employee health and wellness.” Pets have had a presence in Congress from the beginning. In a recent interview, the Assistant Senate Historian, Dan Holt, said senators used to bring their...

Press Releases
New Research to Study Impact of a Service Dog Training Program for Children with Autism and their Families

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced funding for a new research project to evaluate the impact of a service dog training program and service dog matching on autistic children and their families. This grant was awarded to Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. One in 44 children in the United States is estimated to be born with autism spectrum disorder. Autistic children may have differences in social interaction and communication, and may also struggle with comorbid conditions such as anxiety. Behavioral care and supportive interventions are key to aiding autistic children and their families. Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of dog ownership for autistic children and their families can include increased social skills and reduced family stress, yet there is a lack of research on the potential benefits of service dogs for this population. “Service dogs represent a relatively new yet increasingly popular approach for assisting families that include an autistic child,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Carlisle. “This research will further our understanding of the impact of these dogs on the health and wellbeing of autistic children and their families.” Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Carlisle highlights the importance of families viewing their pet dogs as a good match with their children, for the families to experience benefits. Service dogs, with a high level of training and predictable calm temperament, are theorized to be more likely to be accepted as a good match by a family that includes an autistic child. This study will use a cross-sectional survey of parents of autistic children. Data collected will be used to compare those who are on a waitlist to receive a service dog, those who are in the training process to be matched with a service dog, and those who are already matched with a service dog. A longitudinal...

HABRI