Reduce patient stress using the five senses

If you’re looking for economical ways to alleviate your patients’ angst when they come for a visit, the answer may be right under your nose—or eyes, ears, mouth, and body, according to the authors of Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications.

By appealing to your patients’ five senses with some easy-to-implement practices, you can reduce the environmental stress that impacts them.

Visual: Reduce the amount of fluorescent and other bright lights, known to interrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Minimize offensive noises and, if possible, remove patients from areas that have incessant activity.

Auditory: Because music modulates both cardiac and neurological functions, play music in the exam or waiting areas. Slow, classical music especially lowers stress, facilitates sleep, and reduces pain.

Olfactory: Put a diffuser where patients wait or rest. Inhalants such as pheromones, chamomile flowers, lavender, and fresh air reduce anxiety. At the least, minimize offensive odors such as cigarette smoke and concentrated cleaning products.

Taste: Be sure your patients are getting a well-balanced, high-quality diet to insure stress-free bodily functions. Additionally, make sure patients’ gums are healthy, and they’re getting probiotics and adequate fiber to insure easy digestion.

Touch/body sensations: Massage patients, or brush/comb them, to reduce stress. If possible, add exercise, or let them sit in the sun on a cool day, or near cool air on a warm one. And never underestimate the value of companionship.

In addition to reducing stress, canine medical massage and soft-tissue therapy have been especially effective on many clinical conditions, including hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and epilepsy, note the authors of Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications.

These and other tips are included in Canine Medical Massage: Techniques and Clinical Applications, as well as massage sequences and specific conditions that best benefit from massage.

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