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Social support heals faster than medicine, study proves


A recent study by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston proved that patients with supportive family and friends spend less time in hospital. This strongly suggest to the hospital to always place great emphasis on psychological recovery as they do physical rehabilitation.

Zakkoyya Lewis, a lead author and a doctoral student in UTMB’s department of rehabilitation said: ‘When someone does not have the social support of family and friends, they take longer to return home to the community. We believe that support from loved ones may lead to better recovery and better quality of life.

‘Our study is one of the first to look at how level of social support impacts how long patients need to spend in a rehab facility.’

Subsequent certain injuries or surgeries pertain to lower body joint replacement or fracture or when recovering following a stroke, patients are frequently sent to a rehabilitation facility before they are finally discharged. Medicare payment system certainly approves a number of days for patients to stay in a rehabilitation facility considering the situation of their health. Patient who spends less time than projected length earns facilities a financial incentive.

In 2012, 119,439 Medicare beneficiaries were examined by comparing the time spent at the rehabilitation facility and the actual length they stayed.  The examination was combined with analysis of social support made available to the patients.

Amazingly, the result shows that having strong social support influences how long patients need to spend in rehab. Those with strong support from family or friends stayed shorter compared with patients with little social support at the rehab.

‘Our findings provide new information to the growing body of evidence that inpatient rehabilitation experiences can be substantially impacted by a patient’s level of social support,’ affirmed by coauthor Catherine Cooper Hay, a doctoral student in UTMB’s department of rehabilitation sciences.

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