The magic of Dolphin Assisted Therapy
is a new field for a wide range of
emotional and physical healing
| During the past year, Healthcare researchers from The Upledger Institute, Inc. Healthplex Clinic conducted a pilot project to determine the therapeutic effect of the interaction between humans and dolphins.|
CranioSacral Therapy with Dolphins was a joint therapeutic and investigative project sponsored by The Upledger Foundation and the Dolphin Research Center (DSC). The program was conducted on site at the DSC in Marathon Shores, FL and involved clinical staff (Osteopathic and Chiropractic physicians, Physical Therapists and Massage Therapists) from The Upledger Institute HealthPlex Clinic.
CranialSacral Therapy (CST) sessions were conducted in shallow water lagoons where dolphins were in repeated and frequent physical contact with patients and therapists. These CST water sessions were alternated with table sessions conducted on a floating dock adjacent to the lagoons which are in immediate proximity to the dolphins. This collaborative project was designed to assess the therapeutic and healing presence of dolphins while employing CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release modalities with a diverse patient population.
"This work primarily has been with spastic or learning-disabled children. We don't know whether the positive results have been obtained through using swimming with the dolphins as a reward for completing therapy, or if there is an energetic effect involved," says Dr. Bourne.
Although much has been written relevant to the intelligent, kind and playful nature of dolphins and anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the "spontaneous healings" many people have experienced as a result of their encounters with dolphins, this was the first known program to incorporate a proven therapeutic modality simultaneously while being in such direct contact with dolphins.
Many among those who work with dolphins believe they show an ability to sense areas of disability and physical trauma in humans. They'll gently touch and scan people in areas of the body specific to their disability. Investigators in the field of dolphin-assisted medical research conjecture that dolphins' natural sonar, called echolocation, emits sound waves that may have a connection with their sensitivity.
| Worldwide scientific research now shows that interacting with dolphins can: reduce stress and increase relaxation; alleviate depression; help people with disabilities such as Down's syndrome, autism, ADD, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries; boost the production of infection fighting T-cells; stimulate the production of endorphins, and hormones; and help people with cancer and AIDS. |
The results are shown through monitoring brain wave patterns, psychological testing, and studying the blood chemistry for release of endorphins. It is shown that being in the presence of the dolphins induces an alpha brain state. Profound physiological effects are shown in the health of the immune system, the state of the brain, and in the make-up of cells.
The very favorable outcomes experienced by the diverse patient population that participated in the Upledger Institute/DSC program gave rise to a variety of conversations, thoughts, ideas and speculations concerning the nature of the dolphins' "healing presence." Central to these speculations was the importance of the dolphin sounds, and the role of sound and energy in our health.
Clinical experience has shown that the utilization of various sounds, naturally occurring such as wind and surf, flowing water, rain and wind, tend to promote and support meditation and physical healing. As a psychologist with more than 20 years experience in clinical hypnosis, Dr. Russell A. Bourne has found that sound, rhythm and intonation can be quite absorbing for the patient and facilitative of altered mood and consciousness as well as reduction of glutocoticoids and stress hormones. Music has been shown to directly influence heart rate, breathing, muscle contractions, memory and immune system functions.
Dr. Bourne specifically states, "There is, quite obviously, an ancient link between music, sound and health. While the mechanism for this experiential link between sonic vibration and human functioning may not be clearly understood, this has not limited our exploration of this connection and its role in the therapeutic effects noted in our CST with dolphins project."
Ultrasound has been used in sports medicine and rehabilitation to facilitate the healing of contusions, reduce swelling and to promote increased blood flow to damaged tissue. Additionally, it has been employed in diagnostic imaging and recently as an alternative to more invasive procedures to destroy cataracts, kidney stones and gall stones.
Dolphins naturally produce an ultrasonic frequency that is four times the frequency used for therapeutic purposes in clinics and hospitals throughout the U.S. In addition to this higher measured frequency, it is important to remember that the dolphin ultrasound is delivered through water - a highly efficient medium for sound transference. In fact, sixty times more efficient than air.
Clinical experience with patients and dolphins, in the Upledger Foundation/DSC program, suggests that there can be a near immediate, and often times quite dramatic, reduction in fascial or muscular restriction and release of adhesions resultant from past surgeries, scarring, or severe trauma upon receiving direct echolation from dolphins. Dolphins demonstrate significant variability in the echolation sound intensities they emit, and it appears that they are able to adjust, with near infinite variation, the intensity of ultrasonic emanations produced and directed towards patients as well as toward particular areas or regions within a patient's body.
It would seem to be nearly indisputable that dolphins have the capacity through a medium that we understand - ultrasonic vibration - to alter human tissue. This ultrasonic effect, then, is postulated as one of their avenues of therapeutic effectiveness with humans, or if you prefer, one aspect of their "healing presence."
For literally thousands of years, cultures throughout our world have recognized that sonic vibrations influence states of consciousness and the physical body. Recorded history documents that ancient cultures used music, rhythmic drumming and chanting in religious practices as a means of restoring or maintaining physical and psychic well-being. Indeed, there is written record of Islamic, Chinese, Hebrew, Egyptian and Greek cultures using sound to impart cultural wisdom, facilitate altered states of consciousness and to heal the sick.
Greek philosopher and mathemathcian Pythagoras is reported to have believed that certain sounds could be used specifically for curing illness, other sounds for enlightenment or inspiration and still different sounds for relaxation and meditation. Additionally we know that Plato and Aristotle taught their students that sound and music were curative, and that disease could be thought of as a condition of disease - being without ease, without harmony within the body. Often illnesses were believed to have their origin in a disharmonious state of being. Music was seen as a primary means of restoring this necessary balance or harmony within the self, a way to reestablish a healthy resonance. Interestingly, the term resonate literally means "to return to sound" and music was used to return the body to its natural sound, its natural resonate frequency.
As we approach the close of the 20th century, it has become increasingly accepted that a variety of sonic stimulation, from music therapy to ultrasonic vibration, may be utilized as a means of altering mood and consciousness, as well as affecting the physical body.
During the Summer of 1995, John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M., and his fiancee, Lisa Squier, D.C., went to the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, FL for a recreational swim with dolphins. That swim heightened Dr. Upledger's interest in exploring further the therapeutic effects of dolphins and initiated a series of conversations between the Dolphin Research Center and The Upledger Institute, Inc. regarding dolphin-human interaction and dolphin-assisted therapy research.
The Dolphin Research Center (DRC) is located on Grassy Key, where salt water lagoons in the Gulf of Mexico, separated from the open water only by a low fence, are home to a family of dolphins cared for by the staff. The center sponsors educational programs and tours that offer opportunities to interact with these gentle, highly intelligent animals. DRC and its precursors have operated continuously at the same site since 1958. The progeny of dolphins who first came to live here are now producing the third generation. In 1984 the not-for-profit DRC was created and set as its goal the establishment of a unique educational and research facility. Since 1988, DRC's dolphins have been assisting a large and varied group of special children and adults to reach beyond their limitations through the Dolphin Child Program.
The Upledger Institute, Inc. is an educational and clinical resource center that integrates the best of conventional healthcare with advanced complimentary techniques. Dedicated to the natural enhancement of health, it is recognized world wide for its continuing education programs, clinical research and therapeutic services. The Institute was founded in 1985 by John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M., renowned for his development of CranialSacral Therapy. The Upledger Institute HealthPlex Clinical Services was founded in 1985 to improve the quality of life for individuals with pain and dysfunction resulting from brain, spinal cord or other central nervous system conditions. It staffs physicians and therapists educated in a range of healthcare methods focused on moving people to their optimal performance in health. The Upledger Foundation was founded by Dr. Upledger in 1987 to support ongoing research and development of therapeutic techniques.
This special joint program was unique in that dolphins were involved directly in the therapy sessions and were present throughout each patient's therapeutic program. Further, given the extensive application and utility of CranioSacral Therapy to physical and psychophysical dysfunction, disease, and disability, the potential variety of program patients was extraordinarily diverse. This collaborative effort between The Upledger Foundation and the Dolphin Research Center provided an exceptional opportunity to evaluate the impact of dolphins on the efficacy of an already well understood and effective therapeutic modality.
| The Upledger Institute maintains the UI HealthPlex Clinical Services at its headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. For more information about this and other such programs, Dolphin Assisted Therapy and more, contact Patricia Leat or The Upledger Institute, Inc. or the Dolphin Research Center (DRC).|
Today, there are more than 150 dolphin assisted therapy researchers worldwide. More information about organizations and programs can be found at the Related Sites page of this site.