Ethical aspect of use of dolphins
The participation of animals is necessary for sessions of dolphin therapy. In this regard, strict observance of ethical and legal standards is needed, as well as high standards of detention and treatment of animals must be provided. All animals must receive skilled care and nutrition; their health should be under constant supervision of a specialist of veterinary medicine. It is always better to have veterinary laboratory equipped in accordance with international standards, which belongs to the organization, dealing with animal therapy.
Sessions of dolphin therapy are planned in such a way that stress and fatigue of animals are eliminated completely. The number of participants per session is reduced to a minimum, the contact of animals and patients are free of coercion and is possible only at the initiative of the animals. The interval between sessions with the same dolphin should be at least 1 hour to avoid fatigue of animals.
Animals which have undergone stress, animals that have problems with their health, pregnant females and calves that are still fed with their mothers milk are not allowed to participate in dolphin therapy sessions.
Do not forget that the Dolphins are social animals. In the wild they live in large herds which explains their high sociability and friendliness. This need of dolphins to communicate is expressed by showing positive stimulus in contact with people, especially with children. Dolphins communicate with people to have these positive emotions, not only to have something tasty to eat. Tactile contact, sharing swimming, common playing activity are also useful for dolphins, as well as for their patients. In addition, outdoor games with children allow them to exclude the problem of inactivity.
Influence of dolphin on display of various diseases.
In one of the first studies undertaken by J. Natanson in 1978, the ability of two patients with Down syndrome to process and retain verbal information using dolphins as a motivation and positive reinforcement to do the job and securing the necessary behavior were examined. . The tasks were chosen according to the current cognitive abilities of each object. When the correct answer was given, the child was allowed to feed the dolphin. Wrong answers of the child precluded the possibility of communication with dolphins. The training took four times less time than under normal conditions (23). Although the interpretation of these results was limited because of the small number of objects, this experiment gave rise to other projects of developing language skills of mentally retarded children.
Within six months some work with six boys in their language and memory development in conjunction with sessions of dolphin therapy was being carried out. . Three children had Down syndrome, one boy had hydrocephalus and severe delays in the overall development, one of them had brain damage after suffering meningitis at the age of three weeks , the last one was a profound disability due to a genetic anomaly and had problems with motor skills and the ability to speak. Age of children ranged from 20 months to 10 years. Each session consisted of thirty minutes of training and interacting with the dolphin and thirty minutes of training in a classroom. The children is speech during the sessions with the dolphin was fixed more often than in the classroom. Especially effective dolphin influenced the development of speech of patients with Down syndrome. All 6 children had significant improvements in their speech.
It has been noted that the dolphin helps to establish positive contact between parents and children. It is important for families where children with disabilities are educated, because constant emotional stress of parents can affect the emotional, mental and physical development of children. Minimum 3 sessions were needed for the establishment of camaraderie, more intense oral communication, exchange, improvement of solid contact and improvement of relations within the family. .
Three children with autism and four children with emotional instability were examined before and after their interaction with the dolphins in Panama . Improvement in cognitive abilities, increasing the time of concentration for performing the task given to children with autism and to the children with attention deficit disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome was marked. Dolphin therapy has been successfully applied also for the rehabilitation of children with post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and emotional disorders.
In most studies, we are talking about relatively short-term courses of dolphin therapy. Long-term therapy is being provided in the Dolphin Reef (Eilat, Israel). There's a program of individual sessions, the dolphin therapy which lasts for 1 year for patients with Down's syndrome, depression, autism, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and dyslexia . Half of the course includes a conditional work on a platform with the coach, the second half is provided in the water, interacting with the dolphin.
In Japan a scientific study of the influence of dolphin therapy on a person has been conducted. The psychological state of 90 healthy people before and after interaction with a dolphin was analyzed by semantic evaluation of artwork. This method is illustrative in the evaluation of emotional tension and stress. Participants of the sessions of dolphin therapy have shown reduction of stress, in contrast to the control group, which has just watched the dolphins from the side. Researchers claim that reduction of anxiety and stress was occurred due to the interaction with dolphins .
The study of the influence of dolphin therapy on various diseases and disorders was based on the Sevastopol military Oceanarium Lukina LN . Nearly 1,500 people of different ages were involved into the therapy. Among them there were essentially healthy people and patients with different diagnoses. The subjects were divided into the following subgroups: practically healthy people, children from areas of ecological trouble, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, children who suffer from neurotic disorders, children with the syndrome of early infantile autism and children with cerebral palsy
In the subgroup of healthy subjects balancing of the autonomic balance by reducing the contribution of the neural regulation of components and increase of the humeral ones was recorded. It means that dolphin therapy has improved the health of the subjects due to balancing the basic life-support systems of regulation of the body. In the subgroup of children from areas of ecological trouble the main complaints before the course were headache, fatigue, irritability. As a result of dolphin therapy the intensity of headache decreased significantly: by 60% among 5-6 year olds, by 55% among 7-8 year olds and by 76% among children aged 9-10. In general we can say that the positive impact of dolphin therapy on children has been manifested in the improvement of homeostasis, improvement of adaptation reserves.
In the subgroup of children with neurotic disorders there were 178 children who suffer from enuresis, 87 children with diagnosed logoneurosis, 100 children with depressive disorders, as well as children with phobic disorders and neurasthenia. As a result of dolphin therapy sessions there was a decrease of involuntary urination. Especially significant the decline was among 5-6 years old children where the improvement was seen in 90% of cases. Another additional indicator of the effectiveness of dolphin therapy for children who suffer from enuresis was a change in their psychological status, reduction in performance anxiety and aggressiveness.
For patients with logoneurosis positive change was achieved in 75.9%. A decline of tension of regulatory systems of the body was also registered, which contributed to the decline of psychomotor obstacles when pronouncing words. The highest effect was achieved when working with neurotic disorders with a predominance of the psychological component. Here, a significant improvement was observed in 80% of cases. It was also recorded that the greatest impact has been achieved in the age group of 5-6 year olds. With increasing of the age of the child the effectiveness of procedures reduces.
Children with severe Neuropsychiatric disorders were involved into the dolphin therapy. Among them there were 173 children with diagnosed early infantile autism and 135 children with cerebral palsy. Children of all age groups showed a significant change in clinical disease. Among children with early infantile autism in 80% the positive dynamics of a series of symptoms was noted (night's sleep has become more stable, enuresis has decreased and disappear, aggression has been reduced) and 60-80% of other symptoms (the appearance of eye contact, reduction of ritual behavior, autostimulisation). Now there is an opportunity to educate children more effectively and to build up their social interaction skills. Dolphin therapy with children with cerebral palsy has a positive effect on psycho-emotional sphere, and locomotor activity, but significant shifts in the major manifestations of the disease was not observed.
We can summarize that, according to research by LN Lukin and sponsors, dolphin therapy has positive impact on the psychological and physiological state of patients, significantly improves clinical disease and may be used in recovery and rehabilitation of both children and adults. Dolphin therapy can be provided in the following cases: — cognitive development in children with intellectual disabilities, language development of children, the removal of chronic pain, the normalization of vegetative vascular reaction, improving motor skills, the rehabilitation of children with increased aggressiveness and abnormal behavior, rehabilitation of people who have been abused or suffered other psychological traumas (PTSD), treatment of psychosomatic disorders, etc
Despite of the large number of studies in the area of the dolphin therapy, more detailed and methodological experimental studies in this area are needed. Questions of comparing the effectiveness of different types of animal therapy still remain unsolved. We need a larger scale study, compared to what was previously provided about a dolphin therapy and other types of therapeutic effects.
The next step in the planning of therapeutic and rehabilitation activities with the dolphins is to develop an integrated rehabilitation program for children with various violations of the general development of the psyche, which would include, in addition to sessions of dolphin therapy, exercises to develop speech and thinking, physiotherapy and other therapies.