Course Description

Pharmacology in Rehabilitation: Geriatric Pharmacology


Charles Ciccone

Wrote the book entitled: Pharmacology in Rehabilitation

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Course Description

This content area addresses drugs that affect the musculoskeletal system. Medications used to treat pain and inflammation will be discussed first, with particular emphasis on analgesic and anti-inflammatory applications seen routinely in physical rehabilitation. Drugs used to control skeletal muscle hyperexcitability and treat muscle spasms and spasticity will then be addressed. Implications of general anesthetics and local anesthetics are discussed, focusing on their use in surgical, postsurgical, and other clinical situations. This content area concludes with a summary of how specific medications can help improve function and reduce disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.


Upon successful completion of this content area, the therapist will:

  • Differentiate between opioid (narcotic) and nonopioid analgesics, and how each type of analgesic controls pain in rehabilitation patients.
  • List the primary side effects associated with opioid analgesics, and identify the potential life-threatening aspects of opioid overdose.
  • Illustrate how nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) exert analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties as well as several other therapeutic effects.
  • Compare and contrast traditional NSAIDs with other nonopioid analgesics such as acetaminophen and the COX-2 inhibitors.
  • Relate how steroidal anti-inflammatory agents work, and explain how these drugs can have beneficial and detrimental effects on the musculoskeletal system.
  • Describe how anti-spasm drugs work, and how these drugs impact manual therapies, physical agents, and other interventions used to reduce muscle spasms.
  • Illustrate how specific medications act on the neuromusculoskeletal system to reduce spasticity.
  • Differentiate between the medications used to produce general versus local anesthesia.
  • List the positive and negative implications of general and local anesthetic medications in patients receiving physical rehabilitation.
  • Address the theoretical and practical applications of iontophoresis and phonophoresis in treating musculoskeletal impairments.
  • Identify how specific medications can help reduce pain and affect the pathophysiological processes underlying rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • Describe how pharmacologic management acts synergistically with rehabilitation interventions in improving function and reducing disability in patients with arthritis.
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