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Scope of Action:

Geriatric Patient

When we talk about geriatric patients, we mean those of advanced age who present changes resulting from the aging process that can be a challenge for diagnosis, medical treatment and rehabilitation.
The effects of aging in dogs are many and varied, but when it comes to physiotherapy we could mention the following:

  • Reduction in the number of bone and muscle cells and the subsequent loss of muscle and bone mass.

  • Reduced muscle function due to increased fibrosis, atrophy of muscle fibers, loss of muscle fibers and reduced oxygen transported to the muscles.

  • Reduced intestinal absorption of calcium, which causes a decrease in the mineral content of bones.

  • Degenerative joint disease, with obesity that aggravates the effects of osteoarthritis.

  • Osteoporosis can influence fracture healing.

  • Bone callus formation is slower in older animals and fractures take longer to heal.

Most of the diseases that appear in this period are chronic and require treatment for life. For the physiotherapist, it is essential to understand the effects of these diseases on function and daily activity in such a way that it allows us to warn when we are faced with a disease or impairment of the musculoskeletal system.

Knowing this, it can be stated that the work of physiotherapy for the geriatric patient can have two lines of action: the treatment of pain and the maintenance of quality of life.

When it comes to pain, we can use heat or cold packs to help reduce pain with little to no side effects. Electrical therapy (TENS) has proven to be very effective in these cases while allowing easy home treatment; Massages are also very useful.

And in terms of maintaining quality of life, low-impact exercise, such as swimming, and frequent daily walks on a leash should be carried out systematically daily. And weight carrying exercise helps stimulate cartilage metabolism and increases nutrient diffusion. Also, since muscles act as shock absorbers for joints, strengthening periarticular muscles can help protect joints.

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