Take a walk with me: Patient mobility shortens length of stay

Walking patients can help improve the care of older adults and shorten length of stay, according to recent studies.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that elderly patients who walked at least 600 steps during the first to second day were discharged 1.7 days earlier than those who did not, according to a new editorial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Patients wore walking monitors to test the general rule of thumb that "getting back on your feet" would help patients.

"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 lead study author Steve Fisher, a UTMB Health assistant professor, in a press release. "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."

Other studies have also touted the benefits of higher mobility in hospitalized patients. For instance, research found that, on the flip side, low mobility during hospitalization can add to functional decline in older patients, according to a recent Journal of the American Geriatrics study.

With a close eye on cutting readmission rates, hospitals may be examining low-cost ways to improve care.

For more:
- read the Archives of Internal Medicine editorial abstract
- read the Journal of the American Geriatrics study abstract
- here's the Archives of Internal Medicine study abstract
- check out the press release

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