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Dolphins help PTSD and learning struggles

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016

A splash with the dolphins may be the answer to helping returned soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and children with learning difficulties.

Staff at the Nemo Centre in Odessa, Ukraine, say while scientific and medical awareness is only just catching on, there is thousand-year-old evidence that animals can help in mental and physical rehabilitation, The Guardian reports.

"The effectiveness of the dolphin therapy is largely due to unique characteristics of dolphins," the therapy website says.

"They rank third in the ranking of the most intelligent animals of the planet and have well developed, cognitive abilities and intellectual curiosity, which allows to train them easily."

According to The Guardian, a group of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD went to Odessa in September to undergo the therapy.

Trainer and counsellor Yuri Mishkurov, who worked with the group, told the Guardian while the process isn't magic, it can contribute to recovery.

He claimed it was an "effective experience" for the servicemen who throughout the therapy felt "positive emotions".

But some clinical experts argue there is little evidence to the therapeutic benefits of the program.

Hal Herzog, who has studied the interaction between animals and humans for two decades, told The Guardian he had doubts about the therapy.

"Placebo effects, wishful thinking, and simply having a new experience ... are more plausible explanations for the supposed improvements."

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