Monthly Summaries of Nursing Research: June 2002

June 13, 2002

In This Article

Bed Rest and Muscle Deconditioning in Pregnant Women

Maloni JA, St. Schneider BS. Inactivity: symptoms associated with gastrocnemius muscle disuse during pregnancy. AACN Clinical Issues. 2002;13:248-262.

Bed rest is often prescribed to pregnant women who show signs of distress or preterm labor, despite no evidence of its effectiveness in preventing adverse outcomes. Although often thought of as benign, bed rest may induce many physiologic and metabolic changes related to musculoskeletal deconditioning. Nurse researchers followed 65 pregnant women, aged 16 to 40 years, who were hospitalized for bed rest related to symptoms of preterm labor or placental abnormalities. Calf muscle deoxygenation during gentle exercise, a measure of muscle metabolism, was recorded upon hospitalization, at several time points during the hospitalization, and up to 6 weeks after delivery. Recovery time from exercise increased with the length of bed rest. Women who had been on home bed rest before hospitalization showed prolonged recovery times from the beginning of the study and appeared to reach a plateau. After delivery, recovery times slowly returned to baseline. However, the women often complained of muscle weakness, soreness, and fatigue, particularly in the postural muscles of the legs, back, and neck, which often limited their mobility. The long-term effects of bed rest need to be better understood, and women who have been on bed rest may need close assessment and rehabilitation to facilitate a return to function and prevent injury.

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