University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
410-448-2500 or 1-888-453-7626


News Releases

Cynthia Kelleher
Phone: 410-448-6447

Kernan Hospital Therapy Dog Boosts Patient Morale

Dayne, a Labrador retriever with patient

Baltimore, MD (September 29, 2010) - Kernan Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation's latest physical therapy tool has four legs, a tail, and loves attention from human beings.

Dayne, a yellow Labrador retriever, is a therapy dog recently obtained through Canine Companions for Independence® and is sometimes included in treatment plans for patients undergoing physical and/or occupational therapy at Kernan Hospital in Baltimore.

Canine Companions for Independence® (CCI) is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. CCI provided the training for Dayne, who is classified as a Facility Dog – a dog that works with a professional in a visitation, education or healthcare setting.

CCI breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and a cross of the two to be assistance dogs.  Volunteer breeder caretakers care for the CCI breeder dogs and nurture the newborn puppies for eight weeks. The puppies then spend 13-18 months with volunteer puppy raisers who care for and provide basic obedience training and socialization for the puppies.  The dogs then spend six to nine months training with professional CCI instructors, learning over 40 specialized commands before completing Team Training –where they are matched with an adult, child, or facility.

Dayne, a Labrador retriever with patient"Dayne adds a lot of value to our therapy program in terms of the patient experience," said Lori Patria, M.Ed, OTR/L, program director of Rehab Services at Kernan, who is also Dayne's facilitator. "Interacting with him makes our patients feel good while at the same time they're having therapy.  Many times working with Dayne encourages patients to use both their physical and mental abilities because Dayne triggers them to share memories about their own pets."

Canine Companions for Independence® provides a variety of assistance dog programs for people with disabilities or individuals who work with people with disabilities. CCI's goal is to teach clients how to successfully manage and utilize these highly-trained dogs.

The average application process lasts between 3 - 6 months, before an applicant can be accepted into the CCI program. If accepted, the candidate moves to the waiting list, which can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 and one-half years.

Reception to Dayne by both patients and staff has been positive.  Not only does he visit patients during their therapy in the gym, but he also accompanies Patria to meetings and events throughout the hospital.

"With Dayne we've been able to encourage patients to participate in activities to their fullest potential," Patria added. "They do tasks without always realizing that they are participating in therapy. Dayne makes physical therapy a lot more fun."

About Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

A 132-bed rehabilitation and orthopaedic specialty hospital, Kernan specializes in joint replacements and treatment of sports injuries; neck, back, upper and lower extremity injuries; scoliosis; trauma reconstruction; plastic surgery; and dental surgery for adults and children. Kernan's William Donald Schaefer Rehabilitation Center provides the most technologically advanced therapy for orthopaedic injuries, brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other neurologic disorders. Kernan is also the home of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine.