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Therapy Dogs At Sutter Hospital Help Rehabilitate Stroke Victims

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Lavender and Seely are more than just dogs. These two therapeutic dogs are helping patients at Sutter Hospital in their physical therapy.

Lavender is helping Stephen Miller with his physical therapy.

He's been at Sutter hospital for the past four weeks after suffering a stroke.

"Being a stroke victim, you have to reconnect your brain with your body, and these guys are great at helping you heal," Miller said.

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Both Lavender and Seely are trained to help at the hospital.

The dogs go through a specialized training that lasts six months before they are placed with a handler who cares for the dog at the hospital.

"(The dogs are) working with patients with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, to help encourage them to get back to living their life," said Alyssa Rose, Recreational Therapist.

They are different than comfort animals because they are used during the patient's physical therapy. Activities like brushing the dogs can help the patient build their upper body strength.

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"(Patients) are able to practice what it's like to pick up a bowl of water from the floor and refill it to feed the dog," Rose said.

Stephen has dogs at home and says he notices a difference when Seely and Lavender are around.

"I've been moving my leg ever since these dogs have been around," Miller said.

And it's not just physical therapy that Miller is getting, "(it's) therapy for the heart for sure."

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