This Article is From Jan 24, 2011

Dolphins help children with disabilities

Bali: Three dolphins rescued from a travelling circus have assumed the role of therapists at a remote tourist resort in Bali. They have treated more than a thousand patients, most of them children, in the last six years.

Ter Heide, the head therapist at the resort believes that the sonar helps increase human sensory activities.

"It's two main things, the animal contact what helps the people, also the sonar the dolphins have. It has influence on the brain waves and membranes of the cell to improve several things like motor skills or speech skills," she says.

5-year-old Ukrainian Eugene suffers from a rare genetic disorder which causes him to develop weak muscles and grow much slower than other children of his age.

Three years ago, Eugene's parents Vasyl Babiy and wife Nataly Bykh brought him to the resort.

During therapy, dolphins swim around Eugene and sometimes touch his body gently.
Earlier he could barely move his body and would shun contact with others, including his parents.

Three years into therapy, Eugene is now able to crawl, sit and touch others.

"He doesn't speak but he tried to tell Mama Mama Mama. I don't know if he understands what he is saying, but mum is really happy," says mother, Natalya.

12-year-old David Parera is visiting the resort for the first time. He finds it difficult to speak and walk unaided.

"We cannot really see what kind of progress he has had here, but yesterday, he was listening to a song from television, and he started singing back the song like the way it was heard. He has never done that before and it took us by surprise," says George, David's father.

Ter Heide says each patient receives a tailor made therapy programme, but in all cases it is crucial that the dolphins interact with the patient as much as possible.