From Send2Press® Newswire » Story Permalink
NonProfit and Charities News
Occupational Therapists Take Animal Therapies Beyond
Edited by Debra Tone
Tue, 30 Jun 2009, 18:53:29 EDT
WARRINGTON, Pa., June 30 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- A dedication to their young clients has led Deb Saffren and Kim
Hartranft, two Occupational Therapists at Special Equestrians, to broaden the scope of their work in animal assisted therapies.
Every Monday Deb and Kim come to work at Special Equestrians providing Hippotherapy, which is Occupational Therapy on
the back of the horse. "During this interaction, I know that the child does not feel like they are participating in yet another
therapy session. Instead, they are riding a horse," says Deb Saffern, "I know this, because I see their smiles and hear their
laughter. What they are usually not aware of is that we are working on strengthening range of motion, balance, postural
reflexes, right/left discrimination, gross and fine motor skills, communication, visual perception, and cognitive and social skills."
Their work with Therapy Dogs offers the benefit of unconditional, non-judgmental love;
another type of therapy session which can be pleasurable as well as productive. Therapy
Dogs encourage engagement in physical and educational activities. Dogs also help
increase the desire to cooperate, and reduce distractions while increasing attention spans.
Deb Saffren and her dog Cody, a Certified Therapy Dog, volunteer their time for the Roxy
Reading Program in the Central Bucks School District.
Kim Hartranft and her dog also named Cody, who is both a Canine Good Citizen and a
Certified Therapy Dog, volunteer in the Colonial School District where Kim is also a school
based therapist. Kim says "Therapy dogs are calm companions who help relieve stress,
anxiety and loneliness. Dogs bring a pleasant distraction and reduce negative feelings,
thoughts and concerns. They provide a positive diversion from prolonged periods of repetitive beha