Therapy dog helps patients get back on their feet

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Therapy dog helps patients get back on their feet. Registered Nurse Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on November 3, 2017. (WPVI)

Dogs aren't just man's best friend. Many also play an important role in health care from sensing seizures to helping the disabled get around.

That's why a rehabilitation hospital in Montgomery County has one special pooch among the therapy staff.

And it's not just about bringing emotional support. Mr. Pender at Moss Rehab helps patients get back on their feet and hopefully back to enjoying the things they like to do.

Susan Martin of Northeast Philadelphia is getting some help recovering from injuries from a furry new friend at Moss Rehab in Elkins Park.

His employee I-D card says Mr. Pender.

Recreation therapist Liz Decina says Pender, the black lab, is usually close by when she works with patients.

He's specially trained to help people with disabilities and also to help with rehabilitation with things like balance, mobility, endurance and even speech.

Pender understands nearly 50 different commands to help therapists motivate patients. and get them involved in play with a purpose.

He also helps lighten the mood.

"Pender's inclusion in therapy gives them something to focus on outside of themselves, outside their emotional state, outside the pain they're in, and outside the really difficult tasks they're challenged with," Decina said.

Susan was hit by a truck. Her pelvis was fractured, ribs broken. She says she works twice as long on her therapy when Pender is involved.

"I guess I don't think about myself, the pain I'm in," she said.

Decina has always loved dogs. She says working with Pender to help others brings an invaluable benefit.

"He can interact with a patient and change their emotional status. He, believe it or not, elicits a lot of communication from people which is great.

Pender did his training with Canine Companions for Independence.

He is also Decina's workout buddy. He goes running with her and even sits on the mat during yoga.

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