Efficacy of Service Dogs as a Viable Form of Assistive Technology

Karen Frost, MBA, Shirley Fitzgerald, PhD, Diane Collins, MA, OTR/L, Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, PhD

Slide 1
Efficacy of Service Dogs as a Viable Form of Assistive Technology

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Karen Frost, MBA, Shirley Fitzgerald, PhD,

Diane Collins, MA, OTR/L,

Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, PhD

Slide2
Wheelchair Use

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Doubled between 1980 and 1990.

Has increased the need for assistive technology

Propelling wheelchairs and obtaining items out of reach requires physical exertion

Using a wheelchair can be time consuming.

Slide 3
Wheelchair Service Dogs

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Can reduce wheelchair users physical exertion in completing daily tasks

Can increase time efficiency

Provide constant companionship

Graphic Description: photo of a girl seated in a wheelchair. looking at her service dog.

Slide 4
Wheelchair Service Dogs:

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Retrieve dropped items

Open/close doors

Assist in transfers and maintaining sitting balance

Pull wheelchairs

Turn on/off fixtures

Aid with mobility issues

Graphic Description: a photo of a service dog on his hind feet, reaching a wall swith with his front paws.

Slide 5
Literature Overview

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When compared to other wheelchair users, people with disabilities who use a service dog report:

  • Improved psychological well-being.
  • Increased in number of social interactions.
  • Have more friends.

Slide 6
Cross Sectional Study

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Compares two groups:

  • Service dog owners
  • Individuals on waiting lists to receive service dogs

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Use a wheelchair or scooter as primary means of mobility

Slide 7
Demographics

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Graphic Description: a table showing demographic variables. The average age of those who have a service dog is 41.69 years. The average age of those waiting for a service dog is 41.90 years. 57% of those who have a dog are female. 64% of those waiting for a dog are female. 100% of those who have a dog are caucasian. 87% of those waiting for a dog are Caucasian. Those with dogs average 25.53 years with a disability. Those waiting for a dog average 16.54 years with a disability. There were no statistice listed for the 3 other variables listed: years of education, years service dog owned and % employed.

Slide 8
Instruments Used:

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Psychosocial Aspects

  • Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS)
  • Rosenberg Self Esteem (RSE)
  • Social Provisions Scale

Slide 9
Functional Status and Community Integration

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Craig Hospital Assessment and Reporting Technique (CHART)

Slide 10
Statistics:

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SAS was used to perform statistical analysis.

Continuous variables: t-tests and F statistics

Categorical variables: Chi Square

Slide 11
Results

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No significant differences between groups with respect to age, gender, race, or years of disability

S-Dog subjects who are not employed more likely to self-report their employment status as due to personal choice, as compared to unemployed NO-Sdog subjects who are more likely to self-report their employment status as due to disability.

Slide 12
Analysis of Psychosocial Measures:

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PANAS

  • S-Dog subjects had greater positive affect scores (38.09 ± 5.2) & less negative affect scores (15.52 ± 4.13) as compared to the NO-SDog group (means = 34.35 ± 7.07 and 17.97 ± 6.55 respectively)

Slide 13
Analysis of Psychosocial Measures:

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Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

  • S-Dog subjects exhibited modestly higher scores on the RSE (33.13 ± 3.61) as compared to the NO-SDog group (29.8 ± 5.8).

Slide 14
Discussion

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Results indicate that service dogs facilitate positive psychosocial characteristics in their owners including feeling enthusiastic and alert, and having a better self-esteem. Furthermore, service dogs mediate their owners’ feelings of anger, guilt and fear.

Graphic Description: photo of two service dogs seated side by side.

The End

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Updated: March 12, 2002

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Please note: This information is provided a archival information from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility from 1993 to 2002.

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