Immobility in the Aged
Paul Rousseau, MD
Arch Fam Med. 1993;2(2):169-177.
Bed rest has historically been used therapeutically in the management of many chronic maladies prevalent in elderly persons. Unfortunately, the deleterious consequences of immobility predispose elderly persons to significant functional decline and reduced quality of life. Prolonged inactivity reduces the physiologic reserve of most organ systems, particularly the musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems. Consequently, muscle weakness, contracture formation, postural hypotension, and thrombogenic events are common in bed-bound patients. Fortunately, contemporary studies have dispelled the myth that inactivity fosters healing and have suggested techniques that may prevent immobility-induced dysfunction and ensure beneficial outcome in fragile and aging populations.
From the Department of Geriatrics, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz, and the Department of Adult Development and Aging, Arizona State University, Tempe.
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