Volume 29, Issue 4, 2020

DOI: 10.24205/03276716.2020.829

Dolphin Assisted Therapy: Evaluation of the Impact in Neuro- Sensory-Motor Functions of Children with Mental, Behavioural and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The aim is to evaluate the impact of dolphin assisted therapy (short-term) for neuro-sensory- motor functions of children with mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders. The study involved 123 subjects (36 girls and 87 boys). The subjects were aged from 7 to 18 years, the average age of the surveyed was 10.05 years (SD=3.16). All of the subjects have been diagnosed with mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorder (ICD-10-CM) group codes: pervasive and specific developmental disorders (F80–F89), intellectual disabilities (F70–79) and behavioural and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence (F90–F98). The duration of the participation differed as follows: the advanced subjects had complex neuro-sensory-motor activities with dolphins in the water and in the complementary sensory laboratory; the control group subjects participated without changing regular conditions of living. Overall, a complex neuro-sensory-motor intervention programme lasting for two weeks and comprising 10 activity sessions with dolphins in the water (30 minutes), 6 additional neuro-sensory-motor intervention activity sessions in the laboratory (30 minutes) oriented to the needs was applied to the participants of the investigated group. The surveyed were individually assessed on the same day before the start of the first activity session and on the next day after the last activity session. The participants of the control group participated in regular training sessions without changing the rhythm of their daily routine. After the first assessment, additionally, the control group was assessed two weeks later.All of the subjects were assessed according to: 1) questionnaire-based survey; 2) neuro- sensory-motor testing; 3) experiment, all applied before and after the investigation. Conclusions. Two weeks of complex neuro-sensory-motor interventions of dolphin assisted therapy with complementary activities had a significant influence on sensory modulation, reflex integration and balance. Meanwhile, the level of the performance of the sensory modulation and reflex integration as well as balance was not statistically significant. The set hypothesis of the research having it that, when applying complex methods of neuro- sensory-motor activity sessions involving dolphins, positive changes in the functioning of the neuro-sensory systems can yet be reported after 2 weeks, was proven

Dolphin Assisted Therapy; Neuro- Sensory-Motor Functions; Behavioural and Neurodevelopmental

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