Labs Could Help War Veterans Cope With PTSD

Experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a lot of war veterans endure psychological wounds that require time to heal. In the US, roughly 255,000 veterans were receiving treatment for PTSD in 2006, and the numbers increased to above 400,000 by 2010. While the soldiers presently stationed in Iraq are expected to come back by the end of 2011, at least 40,000 veterans more may need therapy for PTSD. Psychotherapy, cognitive processing therapy as well as experimental treatments such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation are most commonly employed to help these brave men and women return to normality.

Ian Lord’s battle against PTSD

As indicated by a report, dogs have been identified to help veterans plagued by PTSD overcome psychological scars effectively. Dogs trained to spot PTSD signs and symptoms and respond may help these vets leave behind violent experiences.  One specific successful example of this new technique of treatment is the tale of Air Force pilot Ian Lord and Jonas, an Australian Shepherd. Ian Lord is still dealing with a traumatic experience in Afghanistan, Iraq as well as the neighboring countries. He still is experiencing mental aftershocks when he hears the sounds of a helicopter or bullets. After his return, he was identified as having PTSD after suffering from a mental breakdown at a simulation training program.

Lord was eventually discharged from the military honorably. Ian Lord then met Jonas, an upbeat Australian Shepherd, through his wife. Jonas was appointed as his PTSD dog when the couple saw that he responded when Lord demonstrated signs and symptoms of PTSD. Anytime Ian became nervous, disheartened or even had sleep problems, Jonas would always race to him and begin licking and cuddling him. This two year old pooch is swift to respond to almost any distress displayed by Ian which is helping the war veteran recover from PTSD a lot faster as compared to the standard methods. After 4 years of active service, Lord is now working part time and intending to register for graduate school.

How Jonas helped

Jonas keeps Ian distracted from the aftershocks of the war and stimulates him to go out more frequently. Ian Lord has acknowledged this transformation in him and quite often wants to spend time with Jonas playing fetch or taking him for a walk. People are frequently surprised to learn that Jonas is a PTSD service dog. Playful dog breeds like the Australian Shepherd as well as Labrador Retriever are great to keep war vets distracted from difficult memories, and they also devote their attention to making their masters feel much better. In exchange vets shower them with love and the occasional lab gift. Another exercise PTSD service dogs are trained to perform is referred to as backing. The animal follows the veteran and allows him to feel more safe by walking right behind him.

New studies underway

Studies to ascertain the effectiveness of this treatment plan have been tackled by a number of organizations to supply superior strategies to PTSD patients. A study that includes agencies from Florida and Colorado is planning to include 200 dogs in the program and test the results after partnering each canine with a war veteran. The study will also consist of training each dog depending on the special needs of the veteran.

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