According to the CDC, 78% of adults over 55 in the U.S. have one or more chronic conditions. The ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) such as transfers, dressing, and bathing along with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning informs healthcare professionals regarding the individual’s level of independence. With chronic conditions such as COPD, chronic heart failure, stroke, and diabetes, individuals may have dyspnea, weakness, and poor aerobic capacity which in turn may lead to impaired ability to perform ADLs and IADLs.
Respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. In 2019, chronic lower respiratory disease including asthma, but predominately chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), was the 4th leading cause of death and influenza and pneumonia the 9th leading cause of death (Kochanek et al., 2020). The ranking for 2020 will likely change due to COVID-19-related deaths at greater than 500,000.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States with greater than 600,000 deaths attributed each year. Along with other conditions such as diabetes and obesity, heart disease may lead to heart failure which affects 6.2 million Americans per year (CDC, 2020).
Muscle strength decline is associated with normal aging and may be accelerated by illness, disease, or injury. Decreased physical activity resulting from COVID-19 mitigation efforts is exacerbating the incidence of muscle disuse atrophy in older adults. Strength declines may lead to functional and mobility deficits with increased risk of falls, injury, or death. According to the CDC, each year three million adults are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to falls. By 2030 fall deaths are anticipated to rise to seven per hour. Accurate assessment of strength using validated tests and objective measures is crucial to creating an appropriate treatment plan and achieving outcomes that reduce fall risk.
Physical and occupational therapists treat many individuals who present with impaired coordination, motor control, balance and tone. These individuals may have a wide range of diagnoses, from neurologically involved, such as cerebral vascular accident (CVA) and Parkinson’s disease, to orthopedic involvement such as post-total knee replacement (TKR). The common goal of improving functional mobility and outcomes may be achieved by the addition of research-supported cycling and biophysical agents.
The rehabilitation of patients with and recovering from COVID-19 is evolving and will be an integral part of therapy for the foreseeable future. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) developed a task force representing all academies and sections to identify core outcome measures to be used with all patients diagnosed with COVID-19 throughout care, across all settings. These outcome measures are to be used with patients having goals associated with five constructs; function, strength, endurance, cognition, and quality of life. (APTA, 2020)
Diaphragmatic breathing helps individuals use their diaphragm correctly while breathing and enhances oxygen exchange (Cleveland Clinic, 2020). With age, stress, poor posture, and illness breathing changes and becomes shallow with increased reliance on accessory muscles. Implementing diaphragmatic breathing may help improve oxygen delivery throughout the body, use less effort and energy to breathe, and decrease overall oxygen demand.
Primary respiratory muscles during normal quiet breathing include the diaphragm and external intercostals. Accessory muscles of respiration assist the primary muscles when the chest is not expanding or contracting effectively to meet ventilation demands. Increased age, stress, poor posture, COPD, pneumonia, and illness are conditions that negatively impact proper oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the lungs.
Individuals who present with a compromised pulmonary system, are acutely ill, or hospitalized for extended periods may become deconditioned or develop hospital-acquired muscle weakness, among other deleterious effects. Even healthy individuals may become deconditioned and frail if they decrease their activity level due to social distancing and limiting time outside their room or home.
Infection control and patient safety are top priorities in healthcare. This document reviews low-level and intermediate-level infection control procedures for use with ACP technology to ensure the safety of healthcare providers and patients.
Topics: Clinical Tip