Patients can struggle during their rehab and physical therapy with sometimes painful exercises, but a popular new employee at UofL Hospital is helping motivate them and divert their attention during those difficult activities.
While they are enjoying their interaction with Travis, they are not as focused on the functional tasks they are completing to continue their improvement.
Travis, a blonde Labrador, is the hospital’s popular new facility dog. He is part of the Paws with Purpose program that provides highly trained dogs to assist people and patients with their needs.
He can roll a ball, hold a rope and toss a balloon with patients. Travis also sits with people during activities and exercises, like riding a recumbent bike. He can also sit as a patient brushes him, encouraging his partner to continue functional tasks needed to continue their path to improvement.
The handsome Labrador is often alongside patients as they exercise to improve range of motion, strength, and balance.
Cathy Gerrish, Travis’ facilitator and UofL Hospital physical therapist, said he brings “a great deal of comfort to patients who are in pain.”
Travis, with his specific tasks and duties at the hospital four days a week, is much different than the therapy dogs many people are familiar with.
Travis, who has his ID badge like other employees, works from Monday through Thursday at the UofL Physicians Outpatient Center splitting time between physical therapy and occupational rehabilitation. He gets a break at lunch to play fetch or take a walk downtown.
While he is on the clock, Travis is helping to bring more smiles and energy to patients helping to overcome roadblocks and power through sometimes strenuous activities.