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Animal-Assisted Therapy Aids in Rehabilitation Process

In a new podcast, Shepherd Center exercise physiologist Mary Ashlyn Thiede discusses the role of therapy dogs.

Animal-assisted therapy can play an important part in the rehabilitation process for patients with spinal cord injury or acquired brain injury. Shepherd Center "employs" multiple therapy dogs who bring joy to patients and also help with therapeutic exercises. These animals take part in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy and psychology in a fun and unique way.

In a new podcast with Shepherd Center Radio, exercise physiologist Mary Ashlyn Thiede describes the training process for therapy dogs prior to working in the facility, their role in the rehabilitation process and the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Download the podcast as an audio file above, or access it at

Mary Ashlyn Thiede is an exercise physiologist at Shepherd Pathways, Shepherd Center's out patient rehabilitation facility for individuals with acquired brain injury. She is the handler for Barboza, a therapy dog at Shepherd Pathways.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.