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Service Dog numbers likely to increase as population ages

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services came out with a report this morning with some not-so-surprising results. The number of adults in the United States reporting disabilities increased by by 3.4 million between 1999 and 2005,. The study, published in today′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, finds an estimated 1 in 5 U.S. adults (47.5 million, or 21.8 percent) report a disability. The three most common causes of disability among adults in the United States are arthritis or rheumatism, back or spine problems, and heart disease.

“It is likely we will see more dramatic increases in the number of adults with a disability as the baby boomer population begins to enter higher risk, older age groups over the next 20 years,” said Chad Helmick, M.D., CDC medical epidemiologist and coauthor of the study. “CDC is working with state health departments and communities to expand the availability of self-management education programs and interventions, such as appropriate physical activity programs, that can reduce the impact of disability.”

Arthritis encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints and other connective tissue. Training Service and Assistance Dogs for arthritis, rheumatism and other mobility conditions will most likely increase as well. Dogs can be trained to open and close doors, retrieve medicines, tools or other objects.

The study of data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation found that women ( 24.4 percent ) have a higher prevalence of disability compared with men ( 19.9 percent ) at all ages. The study also found that disability prevalence doubled for each successive age group — 11.0 percent for ages 18-44, 23.9 percent for ages 45-64, and 51.8 percent for ages 65 or older.

For more information please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

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