Dolphin Assisted Therapy

Dear parents,

In this section you can find information about helpful rehabilitation methods that are not available in our Center but which we can recommend.

It has long been known that there is a biological and energetic relationship between the human and the animal world. Dolphin Assisted Therapy is a treatment involving direct communication between  a patient and marine mammals. The origin of the word "dolphin" is found in antiquity: the god Apollo, having turned into a dolphin, led settlers to Delphi, which became the site of the famous temple to the solar god. That is, a dolphin is “the one who has shown the way to Delphi”.

Today some 165 illnesses are treated with the help of Dolphins.  Dolphin Assisted Therapy is used to treat children suffering from cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, strong psychological and concomitant injuries, delayed speech and mental development and a number of other ailments associated with neurological disorders. Dolphins have a beneficial effect on the central nervous system, stimulating the metabolism, the immune system and other physiological processes. Exercises with dolphins increase verbal abilities in patients with impaired hearing and organs of articulation, improve physical condition by intensifying the work of the various muscle groups, relieve emotional stress and improve the general neurological condition; for example, exercises with dolphins are very beneficial for patients with spinal injuries.

The history of man's relationship with the "primates of sea" goes back to antiquity. Involving dolphins in treatment is based on dolphins’ natural characteristics: the combination of their unique physical abilities and high intelligence, their need for communication, their ability at interspecies communication, their use of non-verbal communication, playful behavior, as well as the special relationship between humans and dolphins; thus, it is one of the most vivid symbols of the fundamental principle, the start of life, i.e. it is archetypical. This engenders a strong positive attitude. The so-called "dolphin effect" comes into being at the junction of an attitude and a real perception; and this effect can be of great therapeutic benefit. Dialogue with a dolphin comprises a number of therapeutic factors: positive emotions, calming, revulsive and vitalizing effects. A dolphin vividly shows an interest in his partner in a dialogue, actively co-operates, attracts his partner’s attention to himself, shows friendliness and sincerity.

Communication with a dolphin makes it possible for us to achieve the following:

-A fundamental redesign of the child’s attitudes towards himself, the people around him, and nature and the world at large;

-Helping the child leave the prison of self-isolation and encouraging the development of an interest in the external world that becomes a precondition for the establishment, rehabilitation, correction, and optimization of social relations;

-Activating brain structures as well as the whole organism through sensory stimulation;

-Encouraging verbal expression, contributing to the speech and sensorimotor development of autistic children and children with lower intelligence;

-Replenishing the depleted store of positive emotions as well as providing support to children and adults who experience loneliness or maladjustment; satisfying the need for communication;

-Creating conditions for emotional response;

-Letting the child share an emotional experience with his parents;

-Stimulating the production of endorphins.

There is a strict hierarchy in a flock of dolphins. Specially trained animals are involved in the therapy. As a rule, these are animals with a "good character" and capable of therapy. They call such animals "dolphin-doctors". Scientists at some sea aquariums have a unique opportunity to nurture a whole generation of marine mammals, training them to become capable of treating sick children.  In order to train a wild dolphin to the same skills, you need to engage intensively with him for over a year. Biologists believe that dolphins’ approach to treatment of children is very intensive and individual. They themselves choose their own pattern of interaction as well as the treatment regimen.

It goes without saying that dolphins cannot cure the little patients from serious illnesses completely. But after the dolphin therapy sessions children with cerebral palsy, with impaired speech and hearing, with central nervous system damage become more relaxed and sociable. It is just in the sea aquarium that these kinds of children start to speak for the first time. Initially, the child and the dolphin should just make each others acquaintance, which a little later will grow into a true friendship. As a rule children are afraid even to come onto the bridge on the first encounter, but after a week they are already floundering in the water with a dolphin. Having swum for a while with dolphins children start to use very bright colours for their drawings: lots of sun, a lot of emotion, a lot of joy appears in their pictures. The relationship between mother and child improves considerably in the course of communication with dolphins. When small children dive and swim with dolphins their general development is favorably influenced. All children, who come into contact with dolphins, are changed; they completely lose the fear of water, and quickly master the aquatic element.

It is not only the process of swimming with the dolphins that heals. Just chattering with them is also important. After half an hour of communication with а dolphin changes in the patient’s encephalogram are observed. An appreciable improvement in patients’ state is typically seen after the third session. For less serious cases it is recommended that the treatment should be repeated after one year. For more serious cases, after six months.  A course of Dolphin Assisted Therapy is best started as early as possible. The best results have been reported for children aged from 6 months to 16 years. Between therapeutic sessions the "doctor-dolphin" has “to take a rest" for at least 40 to 50 minutes.

While humans obtain 90 percent of their information about the outside world from their sense of sight, dolphins obtain 90 percent of such information through their acoustic and echoscopic analyzers.

Depending on the characteristics of the subjects and ambient conditions, the dolphin’s echoscope analyzer can change the power of its radiation by a factor of a billion, and it changes the frequency of its ultrasonic pulses thousands of times more, it is also capable of selecting the most appropriate angle of irradiation of the object. Probably, when scanning the patient, the animals feel vibrations characteristic of the individual human.

No less amazing is the ability of a dolphin to distinguish the time interval between two sounds. There is a certain inertia in the perception of acoustic signals that follow one another. When two sounds are separated by a very short interval, we perceive them as one sound. The dolphin’s nervous system in this regard is 30 times more sensitive than that of a human. Nowhere else in the animal kingdom has such a precise sense of time been found.

A dolphin never loses consciousness completely Otherwise, he could drown by failing to surface to breath. In the course of investigating the sleep of dolphins it was discovered that at the transition from wakefulness to sleep and from one stage of the sleep to another the two hemispheres of the animal’s brain operate alternately. At any time, one of the hemispheres is awake, while the other is sleeping. The fact that this is possible, even if it is valid for only a single species, has forced us to change our opinions radically about how wakefulness is controlled and maintained in the human brain.

Semiotics is a science about knowledge, about natural and artificial languages as sign systems.  It provides us with tools that allow us to assess the degree of complexity of the dolphins’ communication system. Semiotic analysis shows that the dolphins’ communication system is an open type of communication. It is well-known that in our human speech we use a few dozen sounds, a minority of which are vowels, and the majority of which are consonants; similarly, in the dolphin “language”, i.e. in the dolphin's elementary communication signals that comprise its “alphabet”, there are 51 pulse signals, and 9 tonal whistles.

Some mathematically consistent patterns characteristic of human texts have been found in the dolphins’ arrays of signals. They reflect the existence of syntactic organization in the "text" of dolphins. In addition, we should note the following similarities with humans: cardiogram and blood composition, the four-chamber heart, body temperature, comparable weight of the brain.

Interaction with a dolphin in the water significantly stimulates both psychospeech and the physical development of the child.

 

Dolphin Assisted Therapy. Stage 1:

At the initial dolphin therapy session the brain is stimulated because of the high motivation of the child. The child begins to integrate the sensory information from all his sense organs: i.e. he receives tactile, visual and acoustical information.

Dolphin Assisted Therapy. Stage 2:

Upon the establishment of contact between the child and the dolphin and on their entry into communicative resonance, the child and the dolphin achieve a phase of joint mental and motor functioning.

 

Treatment is carried out with the preparation of individual programs and therapeutic techniques. The therapist offers a child, if possible, the opportunity to execute the structured complex of exercises together with the dolphin. During this exercise an active interaction of the child with the dolphin takes place: throwing and gripping of items, hitting the target, throwing the ball over the rope or hoop, etc. Various pieces of sports equipment are used: balls, rings, hoops of different sizes or just a life jacket.

As a result of a stay at the dolphinarium treatment center we observe an improvement in motor and coordination abilities of children with Cerebral palsy.

During rehabilitation sessions at our Centre we also use audio therapy and video therapy, when studio recordings with dolphin sounds and video series and video data about dolphins are displayed. The impact of cognitive therapy helps patients to cope effectively with a variety of emotional phobias. Dolphin therapy programs provide an amazingly powerful display of a child's capacity for thought. Chains of free subliminal associations arise in children's brains under the influence of this kind of therapy.

In addition, our Center maintains contact with leading dolphinologists for the purpose of studying the influence of the dolphins’ electromagnetic fields on children with Cerebral palsy.

Several patients have been trained at dolphin therapy sessions at the Florida Key Lake Centre, in the United States, where it has been possible to measure the positive results of this kind of therapy objectively.