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May. 16, 2011

The Wally Diaries: It isn’t magic…it is science!

by Ally Ruchman

By Ally Ruchman, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Wally is a quiet star. He sniffs his way into a room, his tail wagging rapidly. Sitting quietly next to a patient, he waits for a command. Every day, he makes a difference in someone’s life. He elicits laughter, smiles, and stories. His cuteness is overwhelming, his soulful eyes mesmerizing. But last week everything changed. Overnight, he became an international sensation. Good bye Snoopy. Hello Wally. Our medical abstract was presented at The American Roentgen Ray Society’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. It seems that our abstract, “The Use of Animal-Assisted Therapy Prior to Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” garnered enormous interest. Scientists, physicians, and writers embraced our study and the media exploded with attention.

The data was impossible to ignore. Dog therapy works. Spending fifteen minutes with Wally prior to an MRI decreased patient anxiety, eliminated or reduced the need for medication, and resulted in better MRI results. When patients are relaxed, they can remain still in an MRI machine for longer periods.

Fortunately, Wally created a wonderful buzz and the media spread the news…talk radio across the country and an ABC News interview which resulted in a wonderful article. US News and World Report picked up the story as did many websites. Wally and I are grateful for the strong interest. Our hope is that physicians, hospitals, and imaging centers will embrace our research and adopt our protocols. We are certain that better patient care and better medical testing will result. We are eager to continue our research further in Radiology.

Read previous entries in the Wally Diaries:
Meet Wally the Therapy Dog
Training a Therapy Dog
The Big Test
_______________________
Ally Ruchman is a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in Rumson, NJ. She loves animals, reading, science, and traveling.

About Ally Ruchman

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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