The mHealth in the canine assisted therapy: the design and application of a kit for the wearable monitoring during a walking session

Daniele Giansanti, Giovanni Maccioni


Background: We are today assisting to an increasing interest to the animal assisted therapy (AAT). Among the goals of the AAT there is to improve a patient’s psychological and physiological condition during the rehabilitation therapies. Several studies showed the health benefits (psychological and physiological) for the human subject thanks to the AAT. Today, according to the new central position of the pet, the approach must be revised in a more general and bidirectional approach embedding the assessment of the health benefits contemporary for the two actors, human and pet.
Methods: Among the most commonly used types of AAT there is the canine assisted therapy (CAT). The study focused to the CAT and was dedicated to the design and validation of a wearable system for the assessment of physiological parameters during the walking of the two actors man and dog. A properly designed case-study involved a human (age 40; height 1.80 m; weight 80 kg) with three dogs with different sizes. It has been performed in a rectilinear walkway of 1 km of asphalt with 15 repetition with each one of the three different dogs at a speed typical for a walk.
Results: The study showed a mean error ≤0.6% in the step counting. The study also showed: the feasibility to use parameters correlating the human and dog motion activity; a high acceptance of the methodology as assessed by 5 independent observers and an interesting perspectives for the future scenario of investigation of the medical scientific evidence of the approach based on the CAT.
Conclusions: From a general point of view the work highlights the importance and the utility of the design and application of tool for the contemporary monitoring of the man and the dog during walking and other activities.