TheraDogs program at White Plains rehab hospital helps healing process for patients
A new volunteer canine therapy program at a Westchester hospital is lifting patients' spirits during the holiday season.
The TheraDogs Program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains was launched six months ago and has quickly become a hospital favorite.
The visiting dogs do more than just calm the nerves of jittery patients. Doctors say getting a little puppy love can help and even improve the healing process.
"The research actually shows that it can improve blood pressure, it can reduce stress, it can promote healing, and it just puts everyone in a better spirit, and we know that the psychological component to really aid in motivation is really quite an important aspect of rehab," says Dr. Erika Trovato, the director of the Brain Injury Program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.
Black Labs Nala and Ecco were originally bred for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Foundation but were released from the program, making them a good fit for Burke Theradogs.
The dogs and their owners went through a training process with nonprofit group the Good Dog Foundation that partnered with Burke's volunteer program.
The foursome visit several times a week.
Burke officials say they hope to expand the program with more dogs and owners.