Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

VA/UAB Study Looks at Functional Decline in Older Patients After Hospitalization

09.04.2009
• Hospitalization causes functional decline in older adults.
• Surgical patients regain more function than non-surgical patients.
• Suggests changes in management of hospitalized seniors.

Motivation and expectation may be factors in helping older adults regain lost functional ability after hospitalization, say researchers with the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center and UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham).

In findings published in March in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that patients hospitalized for surgery returned to normal baseline function more quickly and more completely than did patients hospitalized for illness.

Researchers used UAB's Study of Aging Life-Space Assessment, a measure of mobility developed at UAB's Center for Aging, to determine the functional level of seniors before and after hospitalization. On average, patients hospitalized for surgery had a sharp decline in life-space scores immediately after surgery, but returned to or exceeded pre-surgical scores within one year. Patients hospitalized for illness or other medical reasons experienced a lower post-hospitalization decline but did not return to pre-hospitalization scores, experiencing a marked functional decline following hospitalization even after two years.

"The difference may be caused by the presence of increased expectations of recovery and increased motivation in patients presenting for surgery," said Cynthia Brown, M.D., an investigator with the VA's Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center and assistant professor in UAB's Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care. "Patients who undergo surgery expect their medical condition to be fixed and thus to be able to function as well as or better than before. Our analysis indicates that, by and large, that occurs."

The problem, said Brown, are the non-surgical older patients hospitalized for medical issues such as pneumonia or heart disease. The findings show this group on average does not return to baseline, but experiences a permanent decline in their level of mobility.

One hypothesis is that there is no real expectation of full recovery of function by the patient, family or health care providers. Additionally, patients tend to remain immobile in a hospital bed during their stay and may have multiple ailments that complicate treatment. Increased medication also may promote confusion and depression.

"All of these factors can start patients down a slippery slope of functional decline," said Brown. "Our findings suggest that surgical patients return to function, those hospitalized for illness do not. We need to look at our hospital culture to understand why that happens, and to develop interventions to prevent that decline."

Brown said concepts such as Acute Care for Elders (ACE) units, which use patient-centered care, discharge planning, medication review and a specialized environment have shown promise in reducing the decline. Efforts to boost physical and cognitive activity should also be examined.

"Mental status and physical function are targets for intervention during hospitalization," she said. "We need to see about getting these patients up and out of their hospital beds. If we can get these people up faster, perhaps we can reduce hospitalization stays and reduce the risk of falls."

The Life-Space Assessment, developed by Richard Allman, M.D., and Patricia Baker, Ph.D., of UAB's Center for Aging, measures an individual's mobility and degree of independence. Life-space is based upon the distance a person routinely travels to perform activities. The Life-Space Assessment measures how often a person leaves his or her residence, the distance from the residence traveled and how much assistance is needed from other individuals or from assistive devices.

"It is a measure of community mobility and participation in everyday life," Brown said. "Can the individual go to church, go out to dinner, and go to the doctor's office. A life-space decrease may result in a decrease in the distance and frequency of travel from home, thus limiting participation in society. Mobility is a core function that reflects the lifestyle of community-dwelling adults and is an important predictor of morbidity and mortality."

Primary funding for the study came from the National Institute on Aging.

The UAB Center for Aging is a world leader in optimizing function, enhancing management of illness and reducing health disparities among older adults. The Center involves an interdisciplinary community of more than 200 faculty members and staff working together to promote the health and well-being of older persons and their families. For more information, go to www.aging.uab.edu/.

Media Contact
Bob Shepard
(205) 934-8934
bshep@uab.edu

Bob Shepard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uab.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>