MIAMI, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Dolphins are being used as part of a rehabilitation swimming program for paraplegics and quadriplegics in Florida, officials said.
Cathy Herring, a recreation therapist at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, has organized trips to swim with the dolphins for seven years and coordinates the fundraising that pays for the trips, The Miami Herald reported Friday.
Paralyzed patients from Jackson’s aquatic rehabilitation program travel from Miami to the Florida Keys to swim with the lovable marine mammals, the newspaper said.
“We have a whole swim program for outpatients,” Stephanie Godsea, a physical therapist at Jackson, said. “They come once a week and at the end of the summer they can swim with the dolphins. This is like their graduation.”
Two dolphins named Duffy and Stormy swam with patients at the Theater of the Sea in Islamorada Thursday.
All seven patients who participated have been paralyzed for less than two years.
“I don’t know how the dolphins know, but they just seem to know when to go a little slower or be a little gentler with people,” dolphin trainer Trish Waggoner said.
At the end of the swim at Theater of the Sea, Stormy and Duffy jumped out of the water several times and said goodbye by waving their flippers.
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