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  • Arthritis Foundation Releases Physical Activity Report

    Physical activity is an important but underused intervention for adults with arthritis, says a report released yesterday by the Arthritis Foundation at a Capitol Hill briefing cosponsored by APTA. Physical activity, the report contends, decreases pain; delays the onset of disability; improves physical functioning, mood and independence; and enhances quality of life, aerobic capacity, and muscle strength.

    Reps Anna Eshoo (D-CA) Sue Myrick (R-NC), cochairs of the Congressional Arthritis Caucus, also sponsored the briefing. Myrick attended the briefing, which included speakers Jack Klippel, MD, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation; Wayne Giles, MD, MS, director of the Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Promotion and Health Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mary Wu, who told her story from a patient perspective; and Zarnaaz Bashir, MPH, director of Strategic Health Initiatives, National Recreation and Parks Association.

    Despite the documented benefits of physical activity, adults with arthritis have higher rates of physical inactivity than those without arthritis. Furthermore, the highest rates of physical inactivity are among adults with arthritis and heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, and arthritis and obesity, when compared with adults with none of these conditions. The new APTA-sponsored report, titled Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults With Arthritis, aims to motivate health agencies, business, recreational facilities, and others as partners in providing physical activity opportunities that meet the needs of people with arthritis.   

    The report also answers the call of the National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis and the Institute of Medicine's recent report Living Well with Chronic Illness: A Call for Public Action. It outlines an initiative that calls on the nation to address barriers and promote physical activity in a way that is safe, accessible, convenient, and inclusive of adults with arthritis in 6 key sectors—park, recreation, fitness, and sports; business and industry; community and public health; health care; transportation, land use, and community design; and mass media.   

    New in the Literature: Gait Speed and Acute Care Physical Therapy (J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2012 March 11 [Epub ahead of print])

    Walking speed is a feasible measure for patients admitted to an acute care hospital, illustrating that patients walk slowly relative to community requirements but that their speed improves even over a short course of therapy, say authors of an article published online in Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.   

    This observational cross-sectional study included 46 hospital inpatients (mean age 75 years (SD = 7.8) who were referred to physical therapy and able to walk at least 20 feet. Researchers obtained information regarding diagnosis, comorbidities, physical assistance, device use, body height, and weight for each participant. Speed was determined during initial and final physical therapy visits while patients walked at their self-selected speed over a marked course in a hospital corridor. 

    Therapists reported that measuring walking speed was clinically feasible, requiring inexpensive, available resources, 4 minutes' additional time, and simple calculations for documentation. Initial walking speed was a mean of 0.33 m/s (SD = 0.21), whereas final speed was 0.37 m/s (SD = 0.20). The Wilcoxon test showed the increase in walking speed (0.04 m/s) to be significant over a mean therapy period of 2.0 days (SD = 1.4) and total hospitalization period of 5.5 days (SD = 3.6). The effect size and standardized response mean were 0.19 and 0.36, respectively. Minimal detectable change was 0.18 m/s.

    APTA member Heather J. Braden, PT, MPT, PhD, GCS, is lead author of the article. APTA members Richard Bohannon, PT, DPT, EdD, NCS, FAPTA, and Scott Hasson, PT, EdD, FACSM, FAPTA, are coauthors.