A Physiotherapy Approach to the Elderly
Notes: on a
presentation given by Julia Hewitson at the Complimentary
Veterinary Health Group (CVMG) of the SAVA on 5th
September at Didima Conference Centre, Drakensberg, KZN – A
Physiotherapy Approach to the Elderly Canine Patient.
objectives were to define physiotherapy and explain the
scope of physiotherapy specific to the elderly canine
patient, to identify some specific conditions commonly seen
in these patients that require referral for physiotherapy
and to present examples of appropriate types of
physiotherapy treatments and their methodologies.
physiotherapy as a science based profession, goals of
physiotherapy, and an overview of conditions treated,
treatment modalities and outcomes.
some time explaining the importance of history taking,
assessment and evaluation of information and how
clinical reasoning and planning guides treatment.
I wanted to
demonstrate how we as physios can be part of a team,
showing what physiotherapy can offer and how it is very
different from veterinary care but brings a huge benefit
to healing and recovery.
In the main
section of the presentation I took an orthopaedic
condition (OA), two neurological conditions
(fibro-cartilaginous embolism and degenerative
myelopathy) and gave examples of treatment modalities
and explained the methodologies behind these treatments.
The evidence based treatments I used as examples were
manual therapy – mobilisation and manipulation
techniques - and neurological rehabilitation techniques.
I defined the different techniques that could be used by
a physiotherapist as:
– referring to the practice within musculoskeletal
treatments of therapist applied passive or active movement
techniques for management of pain and impairments in
articular, neural and muscular systems.
rehabilitation – I used Bobath, Rood, Proprioceptive
Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) as examples of treatment
methodologies and looked at the sensory integration,
proprioception and postural rehabilitation techniques.
This section was supported by slides and videos
demonstrating different treatment techniques.
I also included the treatment of respiratory and cardiac
conditions for consideration for veterinary practioners to
refer animals for physiotherapy. This category of conditions
commonly treated in the human field by physiotherapists is
not well documented or established as a treatment option in
the field of veterinary medicine yet.
In concluding, I discussed general home management and
physiotherapy advice for owners with elderly pets –
including support before and after euthanasia of a pet - and
the various orthotics, ramps and mobility aids that are
available and can be assessed for and recommended by a