Project that combines therapy and contact with dogs returns to Husm – Saúde

Photo: Pedro Piegas (Diary)

Guapo won caress from patients and staff

Anyone who loves animals knows how nice it is to spend an afternoon surrounded by dogs. Pets are able to cheer up and distract anyone, and it is with this intention that the dogs Kira and Guapo visited, this Tuesday, patients at the Paulo Guedes Mental Health Unit of the University Hospital of Santa Maria (Husm).

The visit is part of a project between Husm, the Fire Department and the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). The technique that unites patients with dogs is called cynotherapy, and it’s not the first time Labradors have visited the hospital. The partnership began in late 2017. At the time, Kira, who is now 5 years old, and Guapo, 7, even won employee badges.

In early 2020, due to the pandemic, animals had to take time off work. The initiative was only able to return now, two years later, and the date was marked with excitement and curiosity on the part of the patients of the Mental Health Unit. The change in the inmates’ mood and receptivity was visible in the first moments of interaction. Cynotherapy works together with other methods in the recovery of patients. This is what the head of the Mental Health Unit, Sidney da Silva Marques, explains:

– We noticed several benefits such as reduced isolation, greater concentration and adherence to drug treatment, decreased aggression and the activity is a practice for the resocialization of the patient.

The first day was very popular: of the 28 admitted to the ward, only two refused to participate. Those who were in the inner courtyard of the Husm, where the socialization took place, were able to caress and play with the pets. Among the activities were walking, ball games, hugs and brushing, all with the company of the dogs, in addition to other games such as bingo and painting.

– I’ve only been here for a while and it was the first time I saw the dogs. I thought it was a cool project because it helps us to be in tune with the animals, and that’s good – says one of the inmates.

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Photo: Pedro Piegas (Diary)

Kira walked with patients at the Mental Health Unit

The action is multidisciplinary. Military firefighters, Husm doctors and undergraduate and graduate students who participate in the Mental Health Care and Health Training Research Group are integrated. The group currently has about 10 researchers who seek to scientifically prove the benefits of canine therapy.

– Our role is to make this integration of teaching and service and show the repercussions for users and the benefits of the practice for them. And the students participate directly in the activities – explains the professor of the nursing course Daiana Foggiato.

Cynotherapy, in addition to benefiting patients, also positively affects everyone involved. For the firefighters responsible for driving Kira and Guapo, the activity is able to help society in a light and relaxed way.

– It’s a project of the Santa Maria community that proves that we can, from a public university, take knowledge outside the institution’s wall. We really liked the project, it does us good as human beings, we are very happy to be able to return – says Sergeant Alex Sandro Brum, who is the tutor of Guapo.

The initiative promises to amuse and help patients. Labradors already have a date to return to the Husm aisles. After the break, visits should take place weekly. At this first moment, the action is aimed at mental health patients and, later, it may be extended to other groups.

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