The hospitalization of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) presents unique challenges for individuals, their families, and care providers. These challenges include longer lengths of stay, higher rates of readmission, increased risk for complications related to multiple comorbidities, and poorer hospital experiences. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants as members of interdisciplinary teams are well positioned to enhance the hospital experience and outcome optimization of persons with IDD when they are acutely ill and more vulnerable.
Purpose and Methods:
Following a brief review highlighting the effect of aging for adults with IDD along with common reasons for hospitalization and potential negative sequelae, the primary purpose of this article is to identify and confront challenges to enhance the hospital experience and outcomes of hospitalized adults with IDD. Practical advice is provided regarding examination and evaluation guidelines, early mobilization and safe patient handling, and strategies fostering continuity of care.
Embracing these challenges ultimately facilitates return to prior or enhanced levels of activity and participation for adults with IDD.