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People live longer with chronic conditions

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Albany/HV: People live longer with chronic conditions
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With advances in medical and surgical procedures, people are living longer. But they're doing so with more chronic conditions. In this edition of Healthy Living, our Katie Gibas has more on the story.

"We need to do more to enhance their quality of life and day-to-day function while they're living with the disease. So we need more coordinated care and more intense care and more care over longer periods," said Terry Ellis, PhD, PT, NCS, Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Assistant Professor, Center for Neurorehabilitation Director.

Terry Ellis is the director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation at Boston University. She's an advocate for increased awareness and funding for rehabilitation services, particularly for those with chronic diseases.

"The amount of rehabilitation people receive is very short and not intense enough. And what the literature shows is it's the high intensity rehabilitation that leads to better outcomes, better function, better quality of life," Terry said. "In the scheme of things, rehabilitation services are very inexpensive compared to a hospitalization."

She works with people with a variety of conditions, including Parkinson's Disease and stroke patients.

She's says exercise and physical therapy soon after the stroke is essential, and with that, patients can regain a large level of function and maintain a better quality of life but it takes a lot of hard work.

"Even though it's difficult to do and even though it can be overwhelming and it can be very challenging and frustrating, the data shows that when people move that side and use that side and incorporate that side into their everyday life, particularly early on, they're going to have a better outcome," Terry added.

She says exercise is also important for people of all ages to help preserve function and reduce the risk for falls in older age.

As she continues to advocate for better funding for rehabilitation, she's also looking to telemedicine as a way to reach patients to help patients adhere to rehab exercise programs at home.

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