According to Everydayhealth.com, one of the most common complaints from people living with Multiple sclerosis is difficulty walking. The problem arises from the attack M.S. launches on the part of the brain that regulates motor function.
This trouble with ambulatory function often leads to the need for a cane, walker, or wheelchair to achieve normal daily needs and manifests a perception of being incapable of meeting those needs.
A Pilot study from the International Journal of MS care published recently endeavored to test the efficacy of using service dogs to improve mobility for 44 M.S. patients who showed “identifiable gait abnormalities secondary to MS who were able to ambulate safely without the use of an assistive device even if they used one intermittently or on a regular basis to compensate for imbalance or motor deficits”
The study consisted of 2 sets of 25 ft walking tests. The walks were conducted at a fast, but safe speed,with rest periods between each. The normal trainer for the dog accompanied the participants in the walks to ensure safety and avoid any skewed data that being unfamiliar with dog-handling may cause with the participants.
The dog wore a harness with a flexible handle to avoid providing lean support for the walker and the walking test was performed with and without the service dog to measure the speed of completion.
Statistical analysis showed that walking with a service dog improved the speed of the participant significantly.
The study’s author cites numerous examples of the other benefits of service dogs including higher self-esteem, reduced anxiety and stress, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
When married with the benefits that a service dog provides in the ambulatory function, the authors encourage further research into the benefits of using service animals for those suffering from multiple sclerosis.
We agree, given the psychological benefits of using a service dog, it seems that men and woman suffering from M.S. would receive a great deal of benefit by working with a service animal.