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Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2015 Mar;10(2):132-40. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2013.871075. Epub 2013 Dec 26.

Service dogs in the province of Quebec: sociodemographic profile of users and the dogs' impact on functional ability.

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Department of Rehabilitation, Laval University , Quebec , Canada .



The objectives of this study were to (1) describe the sociodemographic profile of service dog users, their physical disabilities, main occupations, living environment, and use of technical aids in daily life and (2) evaluate the impact of service dogs on wheelchair travel and picking up objects.


Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected and various mobility tests were conducted in the service dog users' home environment (n = 199).


The service dog users had injuries to the central or peripheral nervous system (55%), spinal cord (33%), or musculoskeletal or orthopedic system (12%). In the wheelchair travel on flat terrain test (n = 67), users travelled a longer distance in a shorter time, improving their average speed to 1.28 m/s with the service dog compared to 0.75 m/s without (p < 0.001). In a wheelchair propelling up a slope, 42% improved with the service dog (n = 60). Mounting a threshold/curb in a wheelchair, 41% improved with the service dog (n = 39). In a test where walkers and wheelchair users picked up three objects off the ground, 44% improved with the service dog (n = 164).


Service dogs significantly improved wheelchair travel speed and distance on flat and ascending terrain, mounting a threshold/curb and picking up objects off the ground. Implications for Rehabilitation For people with motor impairments: Service dogs are most often used as a technical aid to pick up objects (96%), open doors (36%) and pull the wheelchair during travel (34%). Clients' performance in significant travel in a wheelchair (on flat terrain, on an upslope, mounting a threshold) improved with the service dog compared to their own performance without the dog. Clients' grasping performance (picking up three significant objects off the ground) improved with the service dog compared to their own performance without the dog.


Assistance dog; motor disability; outcome measure; wheelchair mobility

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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