Study on Aging and Mobility Offers New Treatment Recommendations for Clinicians

(Boston, MA)- A team of researchers from Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Harvard Medical School reported findings from an observational study that indentifies the impairments clinicians should target to address decline in mobility skills among community dwelling older adults. At the Gerontological Society of America annual meetings in Washington DC, the Boston RISE study reported that limb strength, limb flexibility, limb speed and trunk muscle endurance are measures that should receive increased focus by rehabilitation clinicians to ensure greater mobility. Dr. Jonathan Bean, Associate Professor at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School and Director of Research and Education at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network served as the Principal Investigator.

“Mobility refers to the ability to perform basic tasks such as walking, rising from a chair or climbing stairs. While limb strength and limb flexibility are confirmed as important targets for the rehabilitative care of older adults with mobility problems, this investigation highlights the importance of limb speed and trunk muscle endurance. These two attributes are not prioritized within established exercise programs for older adults. These findings provide strong evidence that these two attributes should be also be targeted to enhance mobility among older adults,” commented Bean. “With mobility problems being a signal condition identifying those at risk for disability and adverse health, our findings identify new directions for geriatric rehabilitative care.”

The results of this observational study have been promising enough that the team has begun to plan for an interventional study to build on the results.

Boston RISE (Rehabilitative Impairment Study of the Elderly) is a study of primary care patients 65 years of age and older who are at risk for a decline in mobility skills. Based at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, the Boston RISE team has several ongoing studies looking at mobility related issues in the over 65 population with the goal of providing clinicians better methods to support their patients. Learn more at www.bostonrise.org

About Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

A member of Partners HealthCare, The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network includes Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod, two long term care facilities Spaulding Hospital Cambridge and Spaulding Hospital North Shore in Salem and two skilled nursing facilities, as well as twenty three outpatient sites throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Spaulding strives to continually update and improve its programs to offer patients the latest, high-quality care through its leading, expert providers. Spaulding has been awarded a Model Systems designation in three specialty areas- Brain Injury, Burn Injury Rehabilitation, and Spinal Cord Injury - by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Spaulding is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Spaulding is the only rehabilitation hospital in New England continually ranked since 1995 by U.S. News and World Report in its Best Hospitals survey with a #6 ranking in 2014-2015. For more information, please visit www.spauldingrehab.org.

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