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“Buddy” Therapy Brightens Rehab

When you’re in rehab, it helps to have a buddy. Patients at Saint Francis Medical Center’s Inpatient Rehabilitation program get just what they need from rehab’s four-legged friend, a 5-year old golden retriever, fittingly named Buddy.

Buddy, a Cape Girardeau Pet Pal and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen, assists patients with gross and fine motor skills, balance, stress relief and companionship – “he is here to help however the patient needs him to,” says Heidi J. Hunter, MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Saint Francis Medical Center.

Heidi Jo Hunter, MD
Heidi Jo Hunter, MD

“The true value in Buddy comes in the bond that humans have with pets,” says Hunter. “Pet therapy is known to decrease stress, increase motivation, and decrease anxiety, depression and pain.” Rehab patients look forward to Buddy’s visits, often asking for extra time with him while he is around. Buddy’s presence provides variety in treatment sessions and motivates patients to do their best.

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