Causes of Immobility
Immobility can be defined as the result of any disease or disability that requires complete bed rest or causes extreme limitations of activities. People who have endured strokes resulting in full or partial paralysis or people who have had severe spinal cord injuries are examples of individuals who would be considered immobile. Immobility that extends for six months or more can lead to osteoporosis or bone loss.
Does Obesity Cause Immobility?
Many obese people are unable to engage in weight-bearing activities. Weight bearing activities are those actions in which the legs and feet are supporting the weight of the body. These exercises build bone mass in young people and maintain that mass in adulthood. If weight-bearing activity is insufficient, bone mass diminishes. Given this difficulty, the questions presents as to whether or not obesity can cause immobility
Obesity and Mobility
Without question, carrying extra weight compromises mobility. Additional pounds make movement more difficult and sometimes uncomfortable. Obese people often have back and knee pain because of the increased pressure on the joints and vertebrae.
In addition, navigating a world made for normal weight people can be difficult. Turnstiles become a challenge as well as seating and any number of other things. It is also noted that obese people will have greater problems with mobility in old age than will normal weight individuals.
Poor Muscle Strength As a Predictor for Immobility
Loss of lean muscle mass in obese people is a concern. It is not unusual for severely obese people who are mobile to spend a few days in a hospital bed and then be unable to simply stand. Offloading-atrophy is a serious complication and can cause extended immobility in patients who are severely obese.
Assessing muscle strength can be an important predictor of immobility and perhaps of death among obese people.
Obesity Among Baby Boomers
A Growing Problem
Millions of baby boomers are currently overweight and potentially laying a foundation for immobility when they reach senior citizen status. The repercussions for an already overtaxed nursing home system are disconcerting. Researchers now claim that being obese increases the chance of becoming disabled at a younger age and therefore unable to perform general tasks such as dressing and bathing.
By 2030, when all baby boomers have turned sixty-five, there will seventy-one million senior citizens in the United States. The numbers of disabilities among people in their thirties, forties, and fifties has gone up substantially in the last twenty years and these new patients are more likely to have illnesses related to obesity.
Given the fact that about one-third of the population of the United States is obese, the problem with potential populations in nursing homes is concerning. Given this rise in disability, the number of people fated for nursing homes is ten to twenty-five percent more than the current projections.
There are about 52,000 vacancies for certified nursing assistants in nursing facilities, and understaffing only exacerbates the problem.
Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes - http://www.tree.com/health/obesity-effects-fatigue.aspx - accessed 8/15/12
NYOSOPEP - http://www.nysopep.org/Causes_Immobility.shtm - accessed 8/15/12
Tree - http://www.tree.com/health/obesity-effects-fatigue.aspx - accessed 8/15/12
USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-06-05-obesity-age_x.htm - accessed 8/15/12
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