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Monday, September 3, 2012

Power Scooters or Handicap Placards May Shorten Your Life

Mobility is life!!

As a physician I don't rubber stamp patients' request for power scooter or handicap parking placards.  In fact, I refuse to do so 98% of the time.  Am I mean and heartless?

On the contrary, I am very much considering the health and well-being of my patients.  A study by Peter Katzmarzyk of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows that people who sit more than three hours sitting per day life on average two years less than those who are more mobile.  This was independent of whether they exercised or not...too much sitting can kill you.

Honestly, many people who request power scooters and handicap placards are requesting a convenience which will shorten their lives.  I can't in good conscience recommend such action.  I know some leave and go to another physician's office where their request may be granted without thought.  However, is this advocating for health or enabling a detrimental behavior?

To clarify, I don't just say no to the request and move on.  I sit with my patients and elicit why they are seeking a scooter/placard, what medical conditions they have that are physically limiting, how active are they currently and what physical therapy they have received to date.

I advise them to look for opportunities to be active rather than for opportunities to limit activity.  Such as getting up yourself to get that glass of water rather than asking your spouse or kids to get it for you.  Do your own chores around the house.  Purposefully park farther away from store fronts rather than circling around the parking lot looking for the closer spot.  And do not use the power scooters in the store.

When at work, stand. Or better yet, get a threadmill walk desk.