Long hospital stays and health..

My uncle passed away last night. We were close in earlier years, but I hadn’t seen him in a while. No need for condolences, although I am as I usually am during these times: reflective.

Anyhow, that’s not the point of this thread. I am just wondering if there has been any studies done on the effects of hospital stays on a person’s health. Nevermind their underlying condition. Let’s just use the time frame of a week. And do an experiment with a willing partner.

So, you and your partner take a week off of work and everything else just to indulge me because, hey, science. You want to study the effects of a week in bed on an otherwise healthy person. Here are the rules, you must stay in bed. You can watch TV or play on any internet device, or do anything that doesn’t require you getting up.

Your partner cooks your meals, brings you water, and brings you bed pans for toiletry. You are hand washed in bed.

How in the hell would you feel after one full week of that? I am a mostly healthy guy, but I would feel nearly dead after that, both physically and mentally. Never mind that at home at least I could sleep at night instead of having medical people fucking with me at 2:37 a.m. I can’t imagine that I would come out of that okay even though I am very healthy with no physical medical conditions.

Any studies on this?

Other Dopers will come in with actual cites, but yes, it is a well-known phenomenon. People get confused and run down in hospital settings.

After my accident, I was in an induced coma for 2 1/2 weeks. A week after waking up, I needed three assistants to make a first attempt standing in a walker.

How could there possibly be such a study that did not take into account the condition that caused the person to be hospitalized?

Hospitals do not force a healthy person to lie in bed for a week. If the doctor wants you to stay in bed for a week, there’s a good reason for it. And, in fact, the main problem with patients in hospital is that the hospitals want to kick them out due to the fact that the insurance company is griping.

On the other hand NASA has studied the effects of a long period of time in bed on healthy people… so look for the results of their experiments. It’s been awhile since I read up on it, but weakness was one of the results because your muscles can atrophy surprisingly fast.

I heard those NASA studies called the ‘pillownaught’ studies.

It is well known that extended bed rest can cause certain types of physical debilitation such as the loss of muscle and bone mass, and extended can also increase the risks of blood clots and skin breakdown (‘bedsores’). I don’t think a healthy person who stayed in bed a week would be at too big of a risk for these things.

I regularly take care of (pregnant) patients who may stay in bed for weeks or even months at a time. (My longest patient stayed in bed for about 150 days.) They do get washed, eliminate, and take their meals in bed. We have a physical therapy program to reduce the muscle and bone loss associated with extended bed rest and also a social program that provides some entertainments and group interaction (we take them out on a stretcher to attend meetings, education, and craft events if they would like to attend).

My patient population is generally young and healthy, so they (usually) bounce back quickly, and we do take steps to keep them healthy during their stay. Sometimes they need just a little bit of physical therapy rehabilitation when their stay nears its end (the post partum period).

I’ve heard popular wisdom that says that for every week you spend in bed (in hospital or otherwise) it takes three weeks to get back up to speed.

I have a close friend who spent last week in the hospital with pneumonia, and a girlfriend’s husband spent the previous week in the hospital (also with pneumonia) and both men are struggling to get their strength back.

So, just to throw this out there, shouldn’t a person at least walk around instead of lying in bed? Of course, I am not a doctor, but if a week of bedrest would make an otherwise healthy person feel like two day old dogshit, is it really the right course of treatment for an elderly and/or sick person?

Of course there are exceptions, but I am speaking in generalities.

Surprised I am the first one to mention this, but Harper’s covered this issue not long ago - specifically with respect to high risk pregnancy, but the information presented is relevant to any kind of bed rest. In short, continuous bedrest is an awful idea. I can believe it - unless I am really sick, even one day of total bed rest makes me feel worse than I would otherwise.

The Bed-Rest Hoax

Well, you do get up and walk around, but the proportion of time spent in bed is much more than when you’re well and at home.

My friend is disabled and uses crutches anyway, but with pneumonia, he was too weak to support himself on the crutches so as to do much walking around the hospital. Presumably if you’re sick enough to be in the hospital for a week or more you’re too sick to do much walking.

Yes, you should, if you can, and if the nurses let you.

No, it’s not, but it makes it easier for some of the staff.

But my mother used to sneak out at night when there wesn’t so much going on.

No, thats for people who are sick (of an infectious disease )…

But 3 weeks is about as long as it takes, or its never going to happen

I’ve mostly had dealings with really sick people.

In most cases doctors, etc., try to get you to walk as much and as soon as possible, sometimes more than you want to. My wife tells: following knee surgery Phy Ther. came to get her out of bed. She said OK, but this morning I fell on the floor for the other therapist. PT said let’s exercise in bed for today.

My girlfriend was in ICU for a month. No private rooms but a ward. She became delusional by the second week. Seeing things, hearing things and seemingly oblivious to pain. The pain medication might have been a contributing factor but the Dr’s were kind of baffled. They said it was the worst case of ICU phychosis they had ever witnessed. They did not believe that she was otherwise normal.