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Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Kenneth W. Bush, PhD, PT

Second Advisor

Nancy Cicirello, MPH, PT


This study focuses on the incorporation of an animal-assisted therapy intervention into the physical therapy treatment of a child with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. A single subject design explored the effects of animal-assisted therapy treatments on the child's functional reach, object manipulation, functional upper extremity range of motion, mobility and speech/language skills. Range of motion measurements and assessment of functional skills data were collected at baseline, after four-weeks of animal-assisted therapy intervention, and at a four-month follow-up session. Goals were created based on the patient's functional abilities at baseline, and were evaluated after the intervention and at the four-month follow-up with the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS). T -scores calculated from the GAS demonstrated an increase in all five of the goal categories after the animal assisted therapy intervention. The subject maintained this level of improvement four months after the animal-assisted therapy sessions were discontinued. This study suggests that animal-assisted therapy can improve a patient's functional outcomes for physical therapy, while reinforcing the desired goals in other rehabilitation disciplines.


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