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Article

Effects of Dog-Assisted Therapies on Cognitive Mnemonic Capabilities in People Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease

1
Dipartimento di Scienze Medico Veterinarie, Università di Parma, Via del Taglio 10, 43126 Parma, Italy
2
Società Cooperativa Sociale r.l. Killia, Via Svetonio 23, 09042 Monserrato, Italy
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Sezione di Neuroscienze, Dipartimento di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università di Parma, Via Gramsci 14, 43126 Parma, Italy
4
Associazione Jiva, Via Erberto Carboni, 2/D, 43123 Parma, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Serenella D’Ingeo, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1366; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051366
Received: 18 March 2021 / Revised: 29 April 2021 / Accepted: 4 May 2021 / Published: 11 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research in Animal Communication)
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in humans and, as the disease progresses, symptoms become more relevant, with significant interference in daily activities and social relations. Currently, a valid treatment is lacking and no highly effective drug has yet been approved for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Animal-assisted interventions play a significant role in the lives of people with dementia. The purpose of the present study is to provide a contribution to research on elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in whom dog-assisted therapies prove to be effective and fully validated during the period of time for which the patient has contact with the animal. The index of impairment of cognitive skills was assessed through different tests. Two months after the end of the sessions, the test results decreased to their initial values.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in humans and, currently, a valid treatment is lacking. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance and benefits of the relationship with companion animals (considered as co-therapists), intended as a means of facilitating social relations and promoting evident wellbeing in AD patients. The study involved 30 randomly chosen patients with Alzheimer’s disease (group T) and three dogs. The group participated in a total of 24 animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) sessions over a span of 12 weeks, using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Wellness and Cognitive Ability Questionnaire (Brief Assessment Cognition or BAC), and Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS) as assessment tests. A second group (group C), consisting of 10 people with AD, was enrolled as control group and underwent the same assessment tests but did not benefit from the presence of the dogs. Tests were carried out at time T0 (before starting sessions), T1 (end of sessions), and T2 (two months after last session). People belonging to group T achieved an overall improvement in their perceived state of wellbeing, even on a cognitive and mnemonic plane. However, two months after the end of the sessions, the test results in people suffering from AD decreased towards the baseline (T0). The study shows how such progress can be achieved through activities based on the relationship with an animal, as long as the animal is a steady presence in the life of the patient receiving the intervention. Dogs involved in other dog-assisted therapies have been found suitable also for assisting patients with AD. View Full-Text
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease (AD); animal-assisted interventions (AAIs); Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE); Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS); Wellness and Cognitive Ability Questionnaire (Brief Assessment Cognition or BAC); senile dementia; elderly patients; dogs Alzheimer’s disease (AD); animal-assisted interventions (AAIs); Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE); Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS); Wellness and Cognitive Ability Questionnaire (Brief Assessment Cognition or BAC); senile dementia; elderly patients; dogs
MDPI and ACS Style

Quintavalla, F.; Cao, S.; Spinelli, D.; Caffarra, P.; Rossi, F.M.; Basini, G.; Sabbioni, A. Effects of Dog-Assisted Therapies on Cognitive Mnemonic Capabilities in People Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Animals 2021, 11, 1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051366

AMA Style

Quintavalla F, Cao S, Spinelli D, Caffarra P, Rossi FM, Basini G, Sabbioni A. Effects of Dog-Assisted Therapies on Cognitive Mnemonic Capabilities in People Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Animals. 2021; 11(5):1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051366

Chicago/Turabian Style

Quintavalla, Fausto, Simona Cao, Diana Spinelli, Paolo Caffarra, Fiammetta M. Rossi, Giuseppina Basini, and Alberto Sabbioni. 2021. "Effects of Dog-Assisted Therapies on Cognitive Mnemonic Capabilities in People Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease" Animals 11, no. 5: 1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051366

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