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Hospital: Higher Mobility Reduces Stays
A new study has shown that hospitalized elderly patients who literally "get back on their feet" by taking even short walks around a hospital unit tend to leave the hospital sooner than their more sedentary peers.
The study draws on data collected from 162 hospitalized patients over age 65. Each patient was fitted with a pager-sized "step activity monitor" attached to his or her ankle - an electronic device capable of counting every step the patient took.
"Using these monitors, we were able to see a correlation between even relatively small amounts of increased mobility and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital," said Steve Fisher, a UTMB Health assistant professor and lead author on the paper. "We still found this effect after we used a statistical model to adjust for the differing severities of the patients' illnesses."
Clinicians have long recognized the importance of getting patients with orthopedic or neurologic conditions up and walking as soon as possible, but no such "standard of care" currently exists for older adults admitted for acute medical illnesses. According to the authors of the UTMB Health study, their work could serve as a first step toward that goal - and may also open the door to other improvements in hospital care for the elderly.
"Mobility is a key measure in older people's independence and quality of life generally, and this study suggests that's also true in the hospital setting," said Fisher. "When we hospitalize elderly people, we set up a paradoxical situation: you can have a positive outcome of the acute problem that brought them there, but still have negative consequences as a result of extended immobility."
Mobility in the hospital as measured by an activity monitor could potentially become a kind of vital sign for the elderly, Fisher said, as well as a tool that would help researchers find the minimal levels of activity necessary to protect elderly patients from long-term declines in function.
REHACARE.de; Source: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
( Source: REHACARE.de )