LONGEVITY REVOLUTION MEANS BROADER ROLE FOR CHIROPRACTIC AUSTRALASIAN MEETING TOLD
The longevity revolution epitomised by ageing baby boomers means a broader role for chiropractors in helping people with decreased muscle or bone density and balance issues which add to the risk of falling, a conference of New Zealand, Australian and International chiropractors in Auckland was told this week.
The conference during the weekend (14th-16th September) organised by the New Zealand College of Chiropractic heard that the implications of the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age meant healthcare providers needed a better understanding of the unique role chiropractic can play. Delegates learned about the various chiropractic techniques best suited to the elderly, how to effectively manage any rare associated risks and also a better idea of the expectations that seniors have of their care.
Dr Graham Dobson, chiropractor, Director of the Technique Department at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic told the meeting that chiropractic had: `a vital part to play in reducing pain and the need for pharmaceuticals, increasing joint mobility and improved overall quality of life by helping to maintain function and a positive attitude.’
He noted that chiropractic care has often been associated only with the management of limited musculoskeletal disorders by the application of spinal manipulative therapy but that increasingly chiropractors were using multiple techniques to assist the patient as a whole by addressing the nervous system, not only his or her musculoskeletal symptoms. Research is beginning to point at chiropractic as having a role to play in the multi disciplinary management of people with conditions such as sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoporosis.
However, Dr Dobson warned that it is important for chiropractors to evaluate older patients carefully to take account of factors such as osteoporosis, multiple interactions of prescription medications as well as the risk of falls.
Research into how chiropractic care for older people may reduce injuries and even deaths from falls is being conducted by Auckland University and the Centre for Chiropractic Research (CCR) at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.
According to Chiropractor, PhD candidate and principal investigator of the study Dr Kelly Holt, falls often occur due to a decline in nervous system function with advancing age. This can lead to a loss of balance, or poor control of the limbs, which dramatically increases the risk of falling.
Dr Holt says: `Already it is estimated that in New Zealand slips, trips and falls cost almost $300 million per year in treatment and rehabilitation costs and as the population ages this will likely get worse.’ He says that ‘falls result in approximately 450 deaths per year in New Zealand and for older adults in particular, a fall can lead to a downward spiral that involves a loss of confidence, a cessation of day to day activities and eventually increased frailty and even death.’
For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit www.chiropractic.org.nz.