Patient rehabilitation at QA Hospital 'more successful' due to therapy dogs

  • ITV Meridian's Grace Williams went to the QA Hospital to find out how therapy dogs are aiding rehabilitation

A man from Hampshire who suffered a stroke just over a week ago, has said therapy dogs have had a remarkable impact on his rehabilitation.

Steve Ruddock from Waterlooville was rushed to the QA Hospital in Portsmouth, after being taken ill.

The 68-year-old had visited his old workplace to see friends when he suffered a stroke and within 30 minutes, he said was on a ward at the QA Hospital.

He said: "I was standing there drinking a cup of tea and I started going dizzy and then I can't remember anything else until I woke up in the ambulance. When we got there, there were all these people with masks on and they rushed me straight in for a CT scan."

Steve has lost movement on his left side and struggles to stand and with his speech since the stroke.

Staff at the hospital are working alongside therapy dogs, like Maggie, to help him regain his strength.

  • Steve Ruddock, stroke patient:

There are 15 dogs on record at the hospital, with six dogs currently volunteering through the charity, Pets As Therapy.

Maggie works alongside other dogs, Whiskey, Louis, Millie and Snowy, whose owners take them for regular visits to the different departments.

Saz Manuel, Senior Occupational Therapist, Acute Stroke Team said the dogs are vital to the rehabilitation of patients.

She said: "I think we need to encourage more therapy dogs to be present in the hospital. I think the effects they have on patients and staff is immeasurable and I think if we had more therapy dogs for our sessions, it would help with our successful interventions.

"Maggie has been helping with Steve's therapy sessions, which helps to encourage a lot of automatic movement to come back but also it draws his attention to his left side. The sensory feedback just from animals is fantastic. It also helps with Steve's anxiety as well and the frustration from the loss of movement. Maggie automatically helps relax him and helps him feel calm, which makes the whole session a lot more successful."

  • Tess Balchin, Maggie's owner:

Lesley Bloomfield, Whiskey's owner, said she's proud of how the dogs and volunteers help patients to improve.

She said: "I never thought that my dog, or any dog, could give so much and when patients or staff text you to say 'thank you, you've made my day', or 'I feel really calm and relaxed after the visit', well, that's a lot of love and attention isn't it. Yes, I'm a proud mum."

These dogs at the QA have proved that they are a patient's best friend, and an effective secret weapon when it comes to recovery.