The dolphin is a particular animal characterized by its intelligence, sociability, character, creativity and lifestyle. But this cetacean is not interesting just for its iconic appearance or for its ingenuity.
Among all its peculiarities, the transmission of acoustic waves (sonar) stands out, used to “see” what surrounds it, to communicate … and, for a while, also to offer therapy. More precisely, something called dolphin assisted therapy.
Acoustic waves have been cut by the evolution of dolphins to allow them to interact with an environment in which the naked eye has access to a very limited amount of information due to the lack of light.
These waves are used by dolphins to see because they interpret the echo produced by objects struck by these waves. But sonar is also essential in communication, and its sound-producing device uses frequencies 4.5 times higher than humans and emits 4 times more information per unit of time than us.
These animals produce both whistles for communication and clicks for orientation, this whole range of sounds is known as echolocation and this is what makes them unique therapists.
The Florida-based Aquatought Foundation has spent years researching the consequences of applying sonar to patients. Its founder, David Cole, offers a scientific explanation of the physiological changes that these waves produce in humans.
He reveals that sonar is so powerful that it could cause a phenomenon known as cavitation (formation of vapor-filled cavities in a moving liquid) these bubbles form in the sea and are very fleeting, but temperatures reach 5500 ºC, this manages to modify the membrane potential of the endings of nerve cells in humans, producing changes in our cells and tissues.
The results of his research indicate that the effect of these waves in contact with humans produces a synchronization of the cerebral hemispheres, (which manage to emit waves of similar frequency and phases) and a neurological response similar to that given in states of anesthesia. In other words, brain activity occurs in which alpha waves predominate, as occurs in states of relaxation. In contrast, in a state of concentration, the electrical activity produced by the brain is mainly beta waves.
The specificity of this effect and its benefits have led to several attempts to artificially reproduce its therapeutic impact. Musical productions have been made that attempt to mimic the dolphin’s echolocation, and it has also gone a step further by creating a device called cyberfyn, which uses virtual reality to copy the effect of sound.
Assisted therapy with dolphins
The therapeutic session revolves around the application of sonar in different parts of the body. This is complemented by various activities between the child and the dolphin that improve their relationship and create a bond, such as feeding the dolphin, performing motor exercises or playing with hoops and balls.
For the application of the sonar, the patient remains floating in the water (a life jacket is used and the collaboration of a qualified therapist), while the dolphin applies its sonar to different parts of the cos.
Children benefit the most from this experience because their brain structures are more plastic and changeable than those of an adult. Sonar emits electromagnetic sound waves that produce stimulation throughout the central nervous system, connecting neurons that are less active than normal. this effect it is crucial in the treatment of autism, One of the disorders to which this therapy has been applied the most.
It has also been used in patients with chronic and / or terminal illness because it improves immune activity and causes the release of endorphins, which act on pain and mood.