Causes of Immobility
Immobility can result from any disease or disability that requires complete bed rest or causes extreme limitations of activities. People who have strokes that cause full or partial paralysis or people who have severe spinal cord injuries are examples of immobile persons. Immobility that extends for six months or more can lead to osteoporosis or bone loss. Read: Bariatric Surgery for Osteoarthritis Pain
Does Obesity Cause Immobility?
Many obese people are unable to perform weight-bearing activities. Weight bearing activities are those actions in which the legs and feet support the weight of the body. These exercises build bone mass. If weight-bearing activity is insufficient, bone and muscle mass diminishes. Studies show this has a devastating effect on mobility decline. Read: Link Between Obesity and Joint Pain
Obesity and Mobility
Being overweight affects mobility. Additional pounds can make movement difficult and uncomfortable. Obese people often have back and knee pain due to increased pressure on joints and vertebrae. Read: Weight Loss for Obesity and Back Pain
Millions of baby boomers are currently overweight and are actively laying the foundation for immobility when they become seniors.
In addition, navigating a world made for normal weight people can be hard. Turnstiles become a challenge as does seating and any number of other things. Obese people will also have more problems with mobility in old age than normal weight people.
Poor Muscle Strength Can Be a Predictor of Immobility
Loss of lean muscle mass in obese people is a concern. It is not unusual for severely obese people to be unable to stand if they are bedridden for a few days. Offloading-atrophy is a serious complication and can cause extended immobility in patients who are severely obese.
Muscle strength can be an important predictor of immobility or even death among obese people.
Obesity among Baby Boomers
Millions of baby boomers are currently overweight and are actively laying the foundation for immobility when they become seniors. 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 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 number of disabilities among people in their thirties, forties, and fifties has gone up substantially in the last twenty years and these patients are more likely to have obesity-related illnesses.
About one-third of the population of the United States is obese, and the potential for overload in nursing homes is concerning. Given the rise in disability, the number of people fated for nursing homes is ten to twenty-five percent more than prior projections.
There are also about 52,000 vacancies for certified nursing assistants in nursing facilities, and understaffing only exacerbates the problem.
Prevention of Immobility
Significant progress in the medical management of the metabolic symptoms related with obesity, has increased the lifespan of the obese individual. There is a tradeoff with longevity in the aging obese person, however, as the musculoskeletal system must bear the burden of carrying excessive weight over the person’s lifespan. As BMI values increase, joint pain symptoms and mobility disability increase.
Many different types of physical activity programs, ranging from simple home exercise programs to intensive highly supervised hospital- or center-based programs, have been used to improve mobility in older people. However, weight loss earlier in life sets in motion a cascade of events that can prevent mobility limitations and disability. Several options for weight loss exist, ranging from medications, to exercise and dietary modification, and bariatric surgery. The “right choice” of treatment for the obese patient should be tailored to meet the individual needs.
In good health,
Content is the opinion of the author and does not constitute or is a replacement for medical advice.