UT Health launches new Move to Improve program

August 5, 2015 | News, UTMC
By Brandi Barhite

UT Health is getting ready to implement a new mobility program that will make bed rest an exception, not the rule, for all patients staying at the hospital.

Tori Smith, physical therapist, and Spencer Wotring, nurse, helped a patient last week.

Tori Smith, physical therapist, and Spencer Wotring, nurse, helped a patient last week.

The program — one of a handful in the nation — is modeled after similar protocol at John Hopkins Hospital and the Cleveland and Mayo clinics.

“The idea behind our Move to Improve program is a pretty simple one: Get patients moving from day one,” said Corey Overmyer, director of therapy services at UT Medical Center. “We don’t want patients to wait 24 to 48 hours to see a therapist before they begin to move. Nurses and other staff are being trained to help with movement from the very start.”

Overmyer said the decision to start the mobility program is based on a variety of research that shows movement increases circulation, and reduces swelling, inflammation and the risk of blood clots.

“A body at rest stays at rest, while a body in motion stays in motion,” he said. “The longer your body is at rest here in the hospital, the longer — and more difficult — it will be for you to be in motion again.”

Tori Smith, UT Health physical therapist, said research shows that patients who do not move are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after 30 days.

“Patients who participate in a mobility program like we designed at UTMC will enjoy many benefits, including the potential for less physical pain and discomfort while in the hospital and possibly a shorter stay,” she said.

The program will involve six zones of activity, which will vary in difficulty. The lowest will be rolling side to side with assistance while the highest will be walking from the bed to the hallway.

“There will be the rare case where you can’t do something with someone,” Smith said. “There should be an opportunity for just about every patient to do some type of movement on a regular basis.”

Most literature that UT Health officials looked at was related to mobility programs for ICU patients. Even though early mobility in the ICU leads to positive incomes, patients who are moved to a general medical unit are generally limited to bed rest until they are evaluated by a physical therapist, Overmyer said.

“Move to Improve is an example of an interprofessional, collaborative practice that is changing the culture,” he said. “It demonstrates that we are here to improve the human condition by providing patient-centered care,” he said.

Dan Barbee, vice president of clinical services at UT Medical Center, expects early mobility programs to become commonplace in hospitals, but is proud that UT Health is among elite company in implementing such a practice.

“Given how quickly hospitalized patients can decondition, particularly when they are on bed rest, there is no substitute for an aggressive and proactive plan to restore mobility,” Barbee said. “What impresses me most is that this program integrates multiple disciplines; it’s about the patient, not about any given department.”

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