As part of the Wounded Warrior Program (WWP), a group of US military veterans, who were wounded, swam with bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Keys on January 9. The activity aims to improve their mental health with some help from the gentle creatures in dolphin therapy.
These soldiers suffered from injuries such as missing limbs or post-traumatic stress disorder. They visited the Dolphin Research Center (DRC), which has been running similar programs for over 25 years.
U.S. Marine Corps Captain Andrew Hairston was left with a broken leg below the knee after an accident overseas. He said that WWP activities are a great way to build confidence and prepare for new experiences.
Hairston shared how the dolphins encouraged him to step out of his comfort zone and do the things he wouldn’t normally do. He added that it’s not often that one gets to swim with dolphins. Those who don’t usually swim, jumped into the water and swam with them.
The charming Florida dolphins prove once again that they can do not only flips and turns in the water but also give help to anyone who needs it.
How Dolphin Therapy Works
In actuality, it’s called Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT). The therapy has been used to improve patients’ speech and motor skills with developmental, physical, and emotional conditions such as autism and Down syndrome.
Dolphin therapy is different from “swimming” with dolphins programs. The latter focuses only on getting people in the water with dolphins, teaching them about cetaceans, and having fun.
Dolphin-assisted treatment is a type of therapy with animals that involves the interaction between dolphins and people with psychological, congenital, or physical conditions. It can be done in a controlled setting with dolphins either in captivity or as part of a wild population. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) states that dolphin therapy treats children and adults suffering from mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.
Dolphin therapy is described as “magical” by people who have experienced it and claim it enhanced their lives.
The dolphins have been trained to interact with people. The therapy involves the dolphins swimming with patients. It also allows patients to touch them and watch them do their tricks and stunts, which positively influences better health. Dolphins can be considered therapists.
To perform these therapies, you need a variety of elements: dolphin trainers and veterinarians, dolphin therapists, and infrastructure that can accommodate patients and dolphins, as well as a budget to protect the animals’ health, which is the most vital element.
The Beginnings of Dolphin Therapy
Betsy Smith, a woman, started the practice after observing an interaction between her brother and a dolphin.
A case study was conducted by researchers in 1987 where dolphins were used to help an autistic child communicate with others. The results convinced Betsy that therapy with these friendly and intelligent animals could be a way to heal people.
Many centers, dolphinariums, and aquariums offer dolphin-assisted therapies for everyone. This includes pregnant women. They claim that they will be able to provide a benefit for both the mother and the baby. This interactive activity is very popular globally and can be found in places near the ocean. The cost of accessing the ocean and interaction with dolphins is considerable. These facilities also provide human support. It is generally recommended that you have several sessions to achieve the best results.
However, after rethinking its ethical implications, Betsy Smith disengaged herself from dolphin therapy during the 1990s.
Nonetheless, the therapy has been used for pain relief, healing, and learning. It can also increase attention span, enhance learning, and improve motor skills and coordination in both children and adults.
It is important to remember that therapy with dolphins does not provide a cure for all ailments and should not be considered a miracle cure.
The Wounded Warrior Project is a program that offers dolphin therapy in Florida to veterans in need of rehabilitation and some sunshine in their lives.
How Dolphins Help Humans
Dolphins been a source of inspiration for people for their intelligence and joyous playfulness. These magnificent sea creatures are more than just inspirational. Dolphins are also able to help those in need. They reach out with compassion to people in ways some consider miraculous.
Dolphins help people with emotional pain, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
People often feel happier and calmer after spending time with dolphins or swimming with them. As they interact with dolphins over time, these healing effects can become more permanent and help people develop positive, long-lasting attitudes.
Interacting with dolphins can also trigger the release of many healing chemicals, including endorphins to relieve pain and interferons to prevent cancer. This results in the physical healing of the nervous and immune systems, which helps fight off many diseases.
People with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy and autism have seen significant improvements in their communication skills, including speaking and using body language.
People with high blood pressure have had their readings drop after spending time with dolphins. People with skin allergies, such as skin conditions, have also reported feeling better after spending time among dolphins.
Although there’s a paucity in scientific studies on the efficacy of dolphins in treating the mentioned conditions, it can’t be denied that their very existence is already a blessing to anyone who interacts with them.
The Wounded Warrior Project
The Dolphin Research Center (DRC) has been working in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Program (WWP) since 2009 to support goals that promote a healthy and normal transition to civilian life for severely injured heroes.
The project provides interaction with charming dolphins as part of dolphin therapy Florida.
This dolphin therapy in Florida includes rehabilitative cycling that challenges our wounded warriors to get back on the saddle literally and metaphorically. The cycling activity is followed by a luncheon or a swim with the dolphins.
Likewise, veterans take part in the Project Odyssey Program, a three-day retreat offered at DRC to help veterans overcome stress and improve their mental outlook. Dolphin interactions like dock sessions and swimming with Florida dolphins are provided to veterans in this dolphin therapy in Florida.
Sunshine Scenic Tours Takes You on a Dolphin Cruise
Just looking at dolphins swim, flip, and turn in the clear waters will surely brighten anyone’s day.
Hop on the Dolphin Cruise in John’s Pass and witness the dolphins play and swim in their habitat. Book a tour now!