Exercise Ankle Monitor Can Tattle To Doctor That You’re Not Moving

In a recent study of the effects of exercise on whether or not newly released hospital patients had to be re-admitted to the hospital later, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) found out about what you’d expect. If you seem well enough to be sent home from the hospital but you don’t exercise and move around, you’re more likely to end up right back where you started. That perhaps not-too-shocking conclusion was published Tuesday in a paper in The Journals of Gerontology, whose lead author is UTMB’s Steve R. Fisher.

But what’s really new about the investigation of the 111 patients, all of whom were 65 or older, is how the team found who was exercising and who was maybe, kinda slacking a little bit. Each subject was fitted with a “step activity monitor” that fit around their ankle and counted every step they took while they were in the hospital and also for a week after they got home.

“We can’t say whether activity is a cause or effect in these cases, we can use it as a marker to tell us whether a person is at high risk and we need to intervene,” Dr. Fisher noted. In other words, you might not feel like moving around much because you are still much sicker than the active patients, or you might simply end up sicker because you didn’t get enough exercise. Either way, you are at a higher risk, and the hospital will get an early warning to contact you about the issue.

It almost sounds like you might get a phone call from the hospital nagging you to get exercising, doesn’t it?

However, it’s more than just hospitals being snoopy about your personal exercise habits. According to Kaiser Health News, US government authorities announced last summer that it had had enough of “nearly one in five Medicare patients returning to the hospital within a month of discharge” quite possibly because they didn’t receive the proper outpatient attention. To contain expenses, Medicare penalized over 2,200 hospitals that they said had an excessive number of elderly patients being readmitted, causing the hospitals in question to lose over $280 in government funding.

And the financial penalties are slated to increase in October.

Would you wear an exercise ankle monitor that reports your level of physical activity to the doctor?

[photo courtesy USAG-Humphreys]