People with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) — a group of related disorders caused by genetic defects affecting the connective tissues, including skin, joints, and blood vessel walls — can experience several symptoms.
While there are many different types, some of the most common symptoms affecting daily life include
- Overly flexible joints. Loose connective tissue that holds the joints together can move beyond the normal range of motion, causing joint pain and dislocations.
- Stretchy skin. With weakened connective tissue, the skin can stretch more than usual. You may be able to pull a pinch of skin up away from your flesh, but it will snap when you let go. As a result, your skin feels exceptionally soft and velvety.
- Fragile skin. Skin that’s damaged often doesn't heal well. Stitches will tear out and leave a gaping scar. These scars may look thin and wrinkled.
How Service Dogs Help People with EDS
Service Dogs assist people with EDS in multiple ways, from practical help with everyday tasks to emotional support.
Service Dogs Help with Mobility
If you have EDS, your joints are likely to dislocate easily. As a result, you may experience frequent dislocations or subluxations, making it difficult to complete daily tasks like grocery shopping. A Service Dog can help you with mobility by providing stability as you walk and assisting with balance.
Some people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome have difficulty standing for long periods or walking without assistance, making them especially dependent on a service dog's help.
Some people with EDS find it challenging to move around when they are crawling or kneeling because they lack strength in the muscles that would usually keep them upright while on all fours. A Service Dog can support these positions by leaning against an individual’s body to stay balanced and stable while kneeling or crawling forward slowly toward their destination!
Service Dogs Can Help with Depression and Anxiety
People with EDS may suffer from depression and anxiety. The symptoms of these disorders can be debilitating and even life-threatening. But with the help of a Service Dog, you can live your life more fully — and with some peace of mind.
Service Dogs are trained to assist people who suffer from panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also have special training in home safety issues common among EDS sufferers, such as falling down stairs or getting trapped in confined spaces like bathrooms or closets.
Studies show that having a four-legged friend around can lower blood pressure and heart rate while reducing stress levels overall, a significant way to improve mental health in those living with chronic pain conditions such as EDS.
Service Dogs Provide a Sense of Security
Service Dogs are trained to keep the person they're serving safe. For people with EDS, this can be helpful in several ways. For example, your Service Dog can alert someone nearby if you feel faint or nauseous walking and need help.
Service Dogs also provide security for their owners and companions as they navigate public places like grocery stores or restaurants together. For example, they can alert others if there’s a medical emergency while protecting their owner from being bumped into by others they may not notice due to sensory overload (another common symptom).
Obtaining a Service Dog
Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) provides extensive training for Service Dogs that begins when they are still puppies. At the young age of nine months, the puppies already know several commands, including sit, down, come, and watch me.
Once a potential match has been identified, ECAD conducts extensive interviews to ensure the dog's temperaments and skills match each candidate. The final training is individualized for each client. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization.
Help Us Change the Lives of People Living With EDS (and Other Disabilities)
Service Dogs can change the life of someone with EDS or other disabilities. If you or a loved one have EDS, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.
Service Dogs keep people with disabilities safe, enabling them to lead independent lives. Everyone can take part in helping people with disabilities with Service Dogs. Support us with a donation, bequest, or planned giving, contribute to our wish list, or create a fundraiser of your own. Your support can change someone’s life.