Individuals with disabilities may seek a variety of different thera-pies. For some, therapeutic horseback riding influences the whole body and has a profound effect on all body systems. Instructors are certified through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. Pet therapy and canine companion programs have re-duced stress and promoted coping for many disabled persons. Some animals including simian monkeys can pick up the phone, retrieve small assistive devices, assist with drinking beverages, or as-sist with activating emergency calls. The “working” animals pro vide companionship as well as physical assistance for elderly per-sons and persons with disability who may live alone.
Nurses can also encourage persons with disability to take ad-vantage of community programs. T’ai chi classes improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination and can help to prevent falls in the elderly. Disabled persons, including wheelchair users, can participate in T’ai chi classes for improved balance, coordination, muscle strength and control, and a sense of well-being.
Daily journal writing has helped depressed individuals and their families overcome many emotionally draining reactions to adverse circumstances. Nurses are instrumental in teaching patients and family members this cost-effective technique. Relaxation exercises can also be taught by the nurse and encouraged in all settings, in-cluding the hospital, rehabilitation setting, outpatient areas, and the home.
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