Service Dogs provide much-needed assistance with daily tasks and support for the emotional and mental health of individuals with disabilities. However, over the past few decades, Service Dogs have also become increasingly recognized for their ability to assist people with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, TBIs affect more than 2.5 million people yearly.
Anyone can experience a TBI, which various factors, including falls, automobile accidents, firearm-related injuries, and assaults, can cause. A TBI can lead to short- or long-term health issues, depending on the severity of the injury. For example, a person with a mild TBI may feel better within a short period, while someone who’s sustained a moderate or severe TBI may have lasting effects. Continue reading to learn how Service Dogs can be critical in helping people with TBIs adjust to a new life.
How Service Dogs Can Help People With TBIs
Service Dogs can benefit people with TBIs in numerous ways that improve an individual’s quality of life. For example, they can help with physical tasks and provide emotional support, reducing anxiety and depression.
Physical Tasks: Service Dogs can perform a range of physical tasks to help individuals with TBIs. They can be trained to assist with mobility, balance, and coordination, helping people with TBIs navigate their environment more easily. They can also help with tasks like opening doors, turning on lights, and retrieving dropped items, which can be challenging for people with TBIs with limited mobility or dexterity.
Speech & Communication: Many people with TBIs need help with communication, including problems with articulation, word retrieval, and comprehension. Service Dogs can be trained to respond to specific commands and to alert their owners with essential cues, like the sound of a doorbell or phone ringing. They can also be trained to understand and respond to basic commands, which can be especially helpful for individuals with language difficulties.
Memory: Brain injuries can lead to memory problems, causing TBI patients to forget critical things like taking medication. Service Dogs can be trained to remind people of essential tasks and can even learn to retrieve pillboxes and deliver them to their owners.
While ECAD focuses on training Service Dogs to perform specific tasks that help to mitigate the physical challenges TBI presents, there are also residual emotional and mental health benefits.
Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are common among people with a TBI. Service Dogs help individuals with these conditions by reducing stress levels and even reducing the need for medication. In addition, they can also be trained to recognize and interrupt negative behavior patterns and provide comfort during moments of distress.
In addition, many people with TBIs feel socially isolated as they struggle with communication and mobility issues. Service Dogs can provide companionship and unconditional love, which can help alleviate feelings of isolation. They can also break down barriers and improve communication, creating a bridge between individuals and their community, making it easier for them to engage in social activities and build relationships.
How To Obtain a Service Dog
Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) breed Service Dogs and train them as puppies. By the time they’re nine months, they know several commands. They then undergo extensive training for 18 to 24 months before they are matched with someone.
Once a potential match has been identified, each person's final training is individualized. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization. If you or a loved one has a TBI, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.
Help Us Transform the Lives of People Living With TBIs (and Other Disabilities)
Service Dogs can significantly impact the lives of people with TBIs. From physical assistance to emotional support, they can provide the assistance needed to live independently and confidently. Having a Service Dog by your side means you can enjoy a better quality of life. Everyone can take part in helping people with disabilities with Service Dogs. Support us with a donation, bequest, planned giving, contributions to our wish list, or create a fundraiser. Your support can change someone’s life.