The Impact of Physiotherapy in the Water Assisted by Dolphins for Motor Skills of Patient after Haemorrhagic Stroke (Case Analysis)

Evelina Rimkutė, Eglė Radzevičienė, Brigita Kreivinienė


Background. Stroke is one of the leading causes of morbidity, mortality and long-term disability worldwide. In terms of innovative technologies which help to recover from stroke one of the newest and least researched methods is physiotherapy in the water assisted by dolphins. Such an innovative case study was conducted in Lithuania. A great variety of scientifc literature on animal assisted therapies and interventions can be found worldwide, however, concerning research on human-animal interaction mechanisms a scientifc gap is still existing as presented in various journals of different felds (Beetz et al., 2012). The aim of the study was to determine the effectiveness of healing exercises in the water assisted by dolphins for motor skills of patients with haemorrhagic stroke. Methods. The study was carried out at the Dolphin Therapy Centre of the Lithuanian Sea Museum. The study lasted two weeks. The sample was a man diagnosed with a haemorrhagic stroke. The research data was collected on motor skills in the water, leg muscle strength, coordination, balance and gait. The patient participated in ten therapeutic activities in the water, assisted by dolphins (length of one activity – 30 minutes). The physiotherapist working with the patient applied balance and coordination exercises in the water. The status of the patient was evaluated four times: before activities with dolphins, after fve activities with dolphins, after ten
activities with dolphins, and follow up in three weeks after ending the activities with dolphins. Results. The muscle strength of legs increased signifcantly in the foot group and slightly in the lower limb muscle group. The greatest result in balance was registered after ten therapeutic activities with dolphins in the water. The greatest improvement in coordination and walking occurred later. Assessing motor skills in the water, a signifcant positive change in equilibrium was observed. Conclusions. The results of the study showed that physiotherapy exercises in the water assisted by dolphins might help to achieve improvements in motor skills.

Keywords: haemorrhagic stroke, motor skills in the water, balance, gait, therapeutic activities for assisting dolphins, physiotherapy in water.

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