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Mobility is The Fifth Vital Sign

By |2018-08-08T11:03:15-04:00June 5th, 2017|Categories: Health A-Z|Tags: |

It’s commonly known that being more active improves your overall health, and doing something as simple as walking more can help add years to your life. But improving your mobility might be worth more than you think.

“Mobility is one of the best predictors of health, longevity, and quality of life,” says Brian Mason, PT, DPT, clinical director of rehabilitation services at CentraState Medical Center.

Walking reduces the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, while also fending off obesity, depression, and other potential consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, research suggests a direct correlation between walking speed and life expectancy, finding that those with a faster stride typically outlive those who slow down.

Reflecting its commitment to wellness, CentraState recently introduced a Mobility Screening Program, becoming the first facility in New Jersey to evaluate a person’s motion with advanced gait analysis technology. The hospital’s new “OptoGait” system captures visual images along with objective data to assess several aspects of mobility.

“This is the same tool used by professional athletes, measuring walking speed and other variables to 1000th of a second and pinpointing deviations that are not visible to the naked eye,” explains CentraState physical therapist Shannon Lenahan, PT, DPT.

The technology is more accurate and comprehensive than any other gait-tracking system, allowing clinicians to identify problems on the spot and then refer patients for further evaluation and treatment.

“I like to think of mobility as the fifth vital sign,” Dr. Mason says. “We should monitor mobility in the same way we monitor blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature, respiration, and other health indicators.”

While the risk for mobility issues increases with age, injuries or illness can also break one’s stride. For example, a broken bone heals within weeks but may change the way a person walks for decades.

“The slightest adjustment could gradually diminish motion and function,” Dr. Mason adds. “That’s why it is so important to pay attention to mobility, even when you’re young.”

Schedule a Mobility Screening

A 10-minute mobility test could provide the information you need for greater speed and agility, while putting you on the right track for a healthier, longer life. The OceanFirst Rehabilitation Center at CentraState offers free mobility screenings to anyone over the age of 50, as well as younger individuals with a history of injuries, chronic disease, or loss of mobility.

To schedule an appointment, call 732-637-6316.

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