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The Effectiveness of Animal Assisted Therapy for Children Hospitalized in a Pediatric Setting

Phase 1/Phase 2
Open (Enrolling)
Developmental Delays, Global Developmental Delay, Stroke, Cancers, Seizures Disorders, Behavior Problems, Feeding Disorder, Developmental Delay in Feeding

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Trial Information

The Effectiveness of Animal Assisted Therapy for Children Hospitalized in a Pediatric Setting

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate if a patient in the pediatric acute care
setting receiving Occupational Therapy (OT) services in adjunct with animal assisted therapy
(AAT) are more motivated to actively participate in the therapy session for a longer period
of time.


Thirty inpatients will be recruited to participate in this study. This study will utilize a
randomized crossover study design where the patients act as their own control. The treatment
period for hospitalized patients will include an on off pattern of incorporating AAT into
their OT session. Patients' participation of therapy will be assessed with a participation
scale (see Figure 2) and the OT session time. Patients will be evaluated for OT and the
therapist will determine goals based on functional status and needs of the particular
patient. Goals will be determined by providing a functional evaluation based upon
Occupational Therapists clinical observation, developmental standards and current functional
level of the patient.

Patients who are potential candidates for this study will be hospitalized at Children's
Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on the St. Paul campus. All inpatients stated to have
decreased functional skills that have been referred by a physician to OT will be invited to
participate this study.

Patients have a difficult time participating in various therapies due to emotional stress,
anxiety, and feeling uncomfortable with the hospital environment. Limited studies have
demonstrated the value of AAT used in conjunction with OT for children, regardless of
diagnosis within the hospital setting. Results of this study can justify the use of this
valuable therapy not only for the selected population, but also for other disciplines such
as physical and speech therapy.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Inpatient Occupational Therapy Referrals

- Ages 0-21 years

Exclusion Criteria:

- Patients who are uncomfortable with dogs

- Patients who exhibits violent behavior

- Animal Allergies

- Patients are unable to work with a dog

- Patients who exhibit severe cognitive delays

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Supportive Care

Outcome Measure:

OT Participation scale

Outcome Description:

The patients response to therapy can be meassures using the following behavior domains (cognition, fine motor, activities and daily living, feeding skills, active range of motion/activities, and functional Transfers).

Outcome Time Frame:

4 days

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Nicole Iammatteo, OT

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:




Start Date:

January 2011

Completion Date:

December 2013

Related Keywords:

  • Developmental Delays
  • Global Developmental Delay
  • Stroke
  • Cancers
  • Seizures Disorders
  • Behavior Problems
  • Feeding Disorder
  • Developmental Delay in Feeding
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Stroke



Children's Hopsitals and Clinics of Minnesota St. Paul, Minnesota  55102