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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 649; doi:10.3390/ijerph14060649

The Impact of Service Dogs on Engagement in Occupation among Females with Mobility Impairments: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

1
Department of Occupational Therapy, Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, MI 48663, USA
2
Dogwood Therapy Services, Albuquerque, NM 87114, USA
3
Medilodge of Capital Area Lansing, Genesis Rehab, Lansing, MI 48910, USA
4
Encore! Rehabilitation, Farmington Hills, MI 48334, USA
5
Munson Grayling Rehabilitation Services, Grayling, MI 49738, USA
Graduate student of the Department of Occupational Therapy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 April 2017 / Revised: 25 May 2017 / Accepted: 12 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Interventions and Activites for Health and Wellbeing)
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Abstract

It is becoming more common for people with disabilities to procure service dogs as a form of assistive technology (AT). However, there is little qualitative research examining the impact of service dogs on engagement in valued daily activities (occupations) among persons with mobility impairments. This study used a qualitative descriptive methodology to learn about the experiences of four female service dog owners with mobility impairments, with a focus on the impact of service dog use on the performance of daily occupations and participation in social activities, and their experiences utilizing a service dog as a form of AT. Data analysis indicated that each participant’s service dog made a significant impact on their everyday lives and their ability to independently perform everyday activities; however, there are also unique challenges associated with service dog ownership that must be considered when evaluating benefits of service dog partnership. Overall, the positive outcomes reported by participants indicate that service dogs can be considered a beneficial, adaptable form of AT for some persons with mobility impairments. View Full-Text
Keywords: activities of daily living; assistive technology; mobility dogs; occupational therapy; service dogs activities of daily living; assistive technology; mobility dogs; occupational therapy; service dogs
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Herlache-Pretzer, E.; Winkle, M.Y.; Csatari, R.; Kolanowski, A.; Londry, A.; Dawson, R. The Impact of Service Dogs on Engagement in Occupation among Females with Mobility Impairments: A Qualitative Descriptive Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 649.

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