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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

First Advisor

Kenneth W. Bush, PhD, PT

Second Advisor

Ann K. Williams, PhD, PT


The purpose of our study was to investigate the effect of pet therapy visitations on three performance measurements by elderly nursing home residents (ages 65 and older). Fifteen volunteers completed the project which consisted of three baseline sessions, three pet therapy treatment sessions, and two post-pet therapy sessions. During each session, participants performance was measured via grip strengt, Fitt's Tapping, and secondary memory. Analysis of variance results indicated that residents demonstrated a significant increase in the grip strength mean score during pet therapy treatment and post-treatment sessions as compared to baseline sessions. In addition, the Fitt's Tapping mean score showed a significant decrease during post-treatment sessions when compared to pet therapy treatment sessions. Secondary memory was not affected. Overall, our study suggested that pet therapy visitations may have a positive influence on performance by institutionalized elderly and suggests that physical therapists may utilize pets to motivate geriatric patients.


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