PoTS UK learns abut medical alert assistance dogs
2nd June 2018
PoTS UK chair, Lesley Kavi and Dr Nick Gall were invited to see the work of Medical Detection Dogs.
The charity trains dogs from a young age as medical assistance dogs. The dogs alert people before they become acutely unwell so that they can take measures to avoid a deterioration in their condition. Most of their work to date had been with unstable diabetic patients who cannot detect that their blood sugars are dropping. More recently, the team began working with people with PoTS. They found that the dogs could alert patients that they were about to faint so that the person could take avoidance measures and lie down before they blacked out.
PoTS UK met 2 young ladies with PoTS, both of whom had worked very hard with their partner dogs and Medical Detection Dogs trainers. Both had experienced significant improvements in their health and independance as a consequence.
Not all PoTS patients would benefit from medical assistance dogs. They can help patients with frequent and unpredictable faints. The training process involved significant commitment by both patient, and often their family. Even after the initial training is completed, there is an ongoing programme of training and reporting. In addition, there is a commitment to caring for the dog partner, which involves exercising, feeding and vetinary care. However for some people, this undertaking is clearly worthwhile.
In addition to meeting inspirational young women with their friendly and capable dogs, PoTS UK were able to witness the research that is currently being undertaken at Medical Detection Dogs. A dog was able to correctly identify which sample of cloth had been in contact with a patient with Parkinson's Disease.
Some children in Africa carry malaria which, through mosquito bites, can infect others. The carrier children (and healthy children) were asked to wear socks, which were later transported to the UK. Incredibly, specially trained dogs are able to identify which socks were from carriers, and which are not.
This is how Medical Detection Dogs describe their work:
'Medical Detection Dogs is a charity based near Milton Keynes who train dogs to detect the odour of human disease. Our Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to detect minute changes in an individual’s personal odour triggered by their known health condition and alert them to an impending medical event. By alerting to an impending episode, this allows the person to take preventative medication or safety measures to either prevent the episode, injury or limit it’s effects. The types of conditions we can work with are PoTS, diabetes, mast cell activation syndrome, severe allergies and Addison’s disease. Many of our clients who have our assistance dogs have reported an increase in confidence and quality of life as well as a reduction in the severity of their collapses and/or injury because they are able to take earlier action following an alert by the dog'.
PoTS UK hope to have the opportunity to work with Medical Detection Dogs to support their research work in relation to PoTS.
Thank you to Medical Detection Dogs for a fascinating and memorable day.