Nurses Get Hospitalized Patients Walking, Feeling Better
“Get on your feet” is the message a recent nurse-led pilot study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is sending older patients. The problem the study tackled: as many as 65 percent of older patients lose their ability to walk while they’re in the hospital. Yet walking “maintains our health and well-being,” says Barbara King, PhD, MS, a professor of nursing, who led the study co-authored by Linsey Steege, PhD, MS, an associate professor and systems engineer, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing.
In addition to helping older hospital patients get out of their beds and walk, the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, yielded some surprising benefits.
Over 13 weeks, MOVIN (mobilizing older adult patients via a nurse-driven intervention) trained nurses to make decisions about how and when to get patients walking and included a system for recording and tracking patients’ movements. Researchers also examined the hospital unit, removing or reducing obstacles that might keep patients from walking, for example, increasing nurse and aide time, addressing equipment and space issues, and focusing on training, motivation, and communication.
Not only were patients able to walk for the duration of their stays, but nurses also reported that patients were sleeping better, asking for less pain medication, and were happier.
Nurses benefited, too. They said they were more excited to come to work and felt fulfilled when they saw the benefits that came with helping patients get up and walk.