Hospitalization can result in functional loss, especially in older adults. The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of intensive rehabilitation on changes in physical function in healthy older subjects after 1 week of bed rest and 3 days of rehabilitation.
Six healthy subjects older than 60 years completed 7 days of bed rest followed by 3 days of rehabilitation including stretching, strengthening, balance, gait, and stair climbing.
Bed rest reduced the distance walked over 6 minutes, slowed gait speeds, and increased sit-to-stand times. Muscle flexibility and isokinetic quadriceps strength varied after bed rest. Three days of rehabilitation restored outcomes measures to baseline levels.
A short bout of focused rehabilitation after a week of bed rest restored physical function measures to pre-bed rest levels in healthy older subjects. Similar training protocols may result in increased functional measures in older hospitalized patients.