Ask Kathy M. Archives
A Collection of Questions and Answers from TBI Advice Expert - Kathy Moeller

Topic: Therapy - Service Dogs

Question:

Dear Kathy M.,

My friend has a TBI and was wondering about a service dog. His main problems are memory and balance while walking. I can see where a service would be great for balance while walking, but was wondering if you knew anything about the memory part. His mother briefly spoke to another TBI patient who commented that her service dog was wonderful for her memory.

Unfortunately she didn't get a chance to get any further information from the woman. Have you heard anything about service dogs for TBI?


Kathy's Response:

I know a number of people with brain injury who use dogs for service (some are official "service dogs" others are not). However, the biggest benefit seems to be companionship. The biggest benefit I have noticed (besides companionship) is that a dog can also encourage a person to use his or her strategies consistently. After all, our pets need regular care, and after a brain injury, it is often difficult to care for one's self or others consistently unless you learn strategies for doing so. Having a dog to care for, who depends on you, can be a great incentive!

I am not the right person to ask about other things, though -- like how a dog could help with balance or memory. Quite frankly, I would think other approaches to regaining balance and compensating for memory problems would be more effective, but in the absence of knowing how the person you met used their service dog, it's hard to say. Do you have access to an OT (Occupational Therapist) whom you could ask -- particularly about the balance issue?

Across the board, these are the kinds of questions you might want to ask others with brain injury who have been "knocking around" for a while. If you talk to enough of us you will likely find people who have had some experience in a particular area. The Internet is a good place to network because you will meet hundreds of people with brain injury from all over the world!

Hope this helps.
Kathy M.

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