The effects of animal-assisted therapy on wounded warriors in an Occupational Therapy Life Skills program

US Army Med Dep J. Apr-Jun 2012;38-45.


Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has gained much attention in civilian and military health care. Evidence supports its benefits with varied populations with diseases and disabilities, but no research has been done with injured or ill service members. This pretest, posttest nonrandomized control group study evaluated the effects of AAT on Warriors in transition (N=24) attending an Occupational Therapy Life Skills program with the long-term goal of improving their successful reintegration. Although significant differences were not found between the groups on most measures, anecdotal reports by participants and observers indicate that participants eagerly anticipated being with the therapy dogs, expressed pleasure and satisfaction with the experience, and regretted seeing it end. There were significant correlations between mood, stress, resilience, fatigue, and function at various measurement points. This is the first study to formally assess the benefits of AAT with wounded service members in garrison. Suggestions for future research are provided.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Animal Assisted Therapy*
  • Combat Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Medicine
  • Military Personnel
  • Occupational Injuries / therapy*
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult