Slouching toward nursing home admission

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Here's a little medical news that made me sit up straight: People with really bad posture are much more likely to eventually need help with activities of daily living (ADL), according to research published in The Journals of Gerontology.

Since I do most of my work hunched over my laptop like a disfigured gargoyle, I assume that means me. And since you do most of your work hunched over your desk, smartphone or med cart, like a swimmer waiting for the starting pistol, I assume it also means you.

The study was actually called, “Spinal Posture in the Sagittal Plane Is Associated With Future Dependence in Activities of Daily Living: A Community-Based Cohort Study of Older Adults in Japan.” In the extremely likely event that you lost consciousness partway through that title, fall face-first onto your keyboard and woke up hours later without any back pain, you're probably not at risk. 

I try to avoid reading anything that includes sentences like, “Spinal posture in the sagittal plane is associated with future dependence in activities of daily living,” so I won't bore you by sharing actual numbers or detailed descriptions of the technical methodology used in the study. But as an aside, I have studied mammal migration on the African Serengeti, and if the Sagittal Plane is anything like that, I definitely plan to visit. *

Basically, researchers at a Japanese university grabbed 804 ADL-independent people aged 65 or older and scientifically evaluated the on-going state of their posture. They claim they did this non-invasively, but nothing to me seems more invasive than walking up to a random senior and saying, “Excuse me, ma'am. Would you mind if I measured your spinal inclination by calculating the angle subtended between the vertical and a line joining C7 to your sacrum?”

Anyway, the point is that for those of us who are slouching toward admission in our own nursing homes, it's never too late to take some preventive measures. Then again, if you're a politician with chronic spine problems, the future looks bleak regardless.

*Yes, I know the difference between “plane,” a gravity-defying deathtrap, and “plain,” where the Sagittal rain falls mainly. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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