Animal Assisted Therapy

The Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program is coordinated by the Recreation Therapy Department. It utilizes volunteer teams, comprised of the owner/handler and pet, to work with patients to help them meet their treatment goals.

A patient brushing a dogPatients who receive Recreation Therapy consults are told about the Animal Assisted Therapy program during their initial evaluation. Patients are screened prior to their session to ensure they are interested in seeing the animal, not allergic or afraid of animals, etc.

Our program started in April, 1998 with an occupational therapist and 3 volunteer teams. Today, we have 7 volunteer teams; we offer our services 2 days per week at Augusta Health to patients on Rehab, Skilled Nursing, Crossroads, Crossroads Extended, Shenandoah House, and occasionally our Acute Medical Floors. We also offer services 2 days per month at Western State Hospital, and we have 2 volunteer teams who go weekly to 2 local elementary schools to have students read to their dogs.

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