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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, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.