Read the reasoning behind Dr. Clark’s most recent published study:
Q: What’s the fundamental question behind this study?
A: The concept behind this study is the term frailty. More specifically, if you’re caring for older patients, how do you identify those who are more likely to have complications after surgery? If you have two grandparents who both maintain the same kind of lifestyle, diet, activity levels, and both go in for the same operation, what causes one person to heal better than the other?
Q: How do you define frailty?
A: A frail person is defined as one who has a lack of reserve. They get injured for some reason, be it from surgery or trauma, and they don’t have the backup reserve to heal as fast as others. A teenager who breaks their leg can heal pretty quick. For an 85-year-old, that same break may take months to heal properly. By measuring frailty we’re able to evaluate this nondescript, complicated component of an older person’s overall wellness.
Q: What specifically did this study focus on?
A: Throughout this study we measured frailty to determine that if a person is more frail, they’d likely have worse outcomes. It’s useful, in that if you’re able to evaluate a patient’s frailty, you’re better able to predict how well they’ll heal after surgery.
Q: Why does this matter?
A: With older patients who need surgery, evaluating frailty can be complicated. We have attempted to simplify the processes of measuring frailty. Making this screening process easier will help identify patients at risk and hopefully improve outcomes after surgery.
Q: What does this study enable, moving forward?
A: Now that we have an established method for evaluating patient frailty, there are ways to increase overall wellness—pre-op as well as post-op. With physical exercise and pre-conditioning, it’s possible increase at patient’s physiologic reserve. So, if a patient is planning on surgery, we can use the weeks approaching their surgery to introduce preventative measures that will ensure a speedier, successful recovery. We’re essentially enabling and encouraging our patients to “train” for surgery.
To read Dr. Clark’s study in full, or read additional resources, click here.