Diseases involving the nervous system are devastating to the individual and their families. In certain diagnosis such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. the disease is progressive. Over time the individual looses control of their arms and legs (as a result of the destruction of the nerves). Thought processes become progressively impaired as the disease advances. The person’s safety becomes increasingly at risk due to falls or elopement.
Another category of neurological disorders are those which are non-progressive. A few examples are Brain Damage (chemical or organic), Stroke, Down Syndrome and Brain Tumor.
Care giving tasks become increasingly needed from the person’s friends and family. Such care can be expensive or if separated from loved ones, unavailable. The goal of the service dog for these individuals is to keep them as independent as long as possible. Statistically once a service dog is placed, the individual is able to stay out of assisted living (nursing homes) an average of 3 years longer. This is a savings of $10,000 - $15,000. Being able to stay in one's home longer and with greater independence is priceless.
Individuals experiencing these types of diagnoses can have a wide range of symptoms.
They may struggle with:
The individual may:
Day to day tasks become more overwhelming related to:
The goal of the service dog for such persons is to aid them in achieving as much independence as possible.
Though the range of illnesses involving the brain is expansive, there are a few key symptoms that cross nearly all neurological diseases. Wilderwood focuses our core training on these symptoms. Then, in the last three months of training, we specialize tasks for each dog to the client’s specific needs.
Service dogs offer companionship, decrease isolation and improve physical mobility. Other symptom managments are:
|Symptom||Service Dog Response|
|Cognitive (poor decision making, environmental safety issues)||Alert to hazards, alert to client leaving home, alert to night awakenings|
|Perceptual (decrease function of five senses, decrease balance)||Guide on stairs, balance, assist with rising and sitting|
|Physical (headaches, fatigue, tremors, decrease sleep)||Snuggle, lean, deep pressure|
|Emotional/Behavioural (irritability, mood swings, aggression)||Snuggle, touch, companionship, increase independence, distraction|