Philly’s ‘Best Friends Bash’ pairs pediatric and pet patients

Lentil helps teach children with cleft lips it's OK to be different. Credit: Paige Ozaroski, Metro
Lentil helps teach children with cleft lips it’s OK to be different. Credit: Paige Ozaroski, Metro

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have teamed up to help children with craniofacial conditions cope and to encourage the sharing of ideas between practitioners who treat humans and those who care for their four-legged counterparts.

During the inaugural “Best Friends Bash” Wednesday night, 20 of CHOP’s craniofacial patients were introduced to four Penn Vet dogs with similar conditions.

Penn Vet Assistant Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery Dr. John Lewis said planning for the event began after he gave a lecture on animal craniofacial reconstructions at Penn’s Center for Human Appearance.

“As I was putting together that presentation, it came to me that wouldn’t it be a great thing to be able to bring these craniofacial patients together, both humans and animals, and have sort of a specialized pet therapy program?” Lewis said.

Researchers said children can learn a lot from the way their furry friends deal with disabilities.

“An animal doesn’t care about his function or appearance, he’s just unconditional,” Chief of CHOP’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division Dr. Scott Bartlett said.

“They still wag their tail even though they’ve got a deformity. They cope, they manage, and I think they really become an inspiration for children who have similar deformities.

“I think the way dogs approach children with facial deformities is important, too. To a dog, there’s no such thing as facial difference, it all looks the same.”

But the patients aren’t the only beneficiaries – the event also encouraged physicians to learn from one another.

“We’re hoping some good things will come out of it, not only from an inspirational standpoint, but also from a collaboration standpoint,” Lewis said.

“We’re hoping to interact more with our colleagues down at the Children’s Hospital and have some of the insights that can be gleaned from the veterinary side hopefully benefit human patients, and vice versa.”

He said though pet therapy is fairly well established, the “Best Friends Bash” is unique in that both patients and “therapists” are suffering similar ailments.

“To my knowledge, the event the first of its kind when it comes to bringing veterinary and human craniofacial patients together to share stories and to inspire each other,” Lewis said.

“So, hopefully, it will take off from here.”

Robert Walton, 8, is shown above with Buddy along with Buddy's owner Geoff MacKenzie. Credit: Paige Ozaroski, Metro
Robert Walton, 8, is shown above with Buddy along with Buddy’s owner Geoff MacKenzie. Credit: Paige Ozaroski, Metro

Weird science?

Exactly how much do human and veterinary medicine overlap? More than most may think.

“People are sometimes surprised – ‘I never knew dogs could get a cleft palate,’ or ‘I never knew animals could get oral cancer,’” Lewis said. “But pretty much everything people get, dogs and cats are at risk of getting, as well.”

Bartlett said “there’s been a sort of back and forth between veterinarians and physicians for years.”

Most physicians have at some point in their career cared for animals – Bartlett when he was in training 30 years ago treated an orangutan at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.

And he said many treatment techniques pioneered in humans are now being used on animals, a trend he thinks will continue to grow.

“As people become more and more vested in their animals and more willing to pay for veterinary care, I think they will adopt more and more sophisticated techniques,” Bartlett said.

“The sky’s the limit – it’s a matter of what price is society willing to pay.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…