[Purpose] The number of bedridden patients requiring nursing care in Japan has increased sharply in recent years because of its aging population and advances in medical care and has become a major social issue. Because bedridden patients are susceptible to nursing and healthcare-associated pneumonia, it is very important to improve their immunocompetence. Therefore, the effect of exercise therapy on stimulation of cytokine secretion in the saliva of bedridden patients was investigated. [Subjects and Methods] The subjects of this study were bedridden patients admitted to nursing care facilities. They were instructed to perform active assistive movement in the supine and sitting positions, with vital signs used as an index of the exercise load. Thirty-five patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria, which included cerebrovascular disease as the main cause of being bedridden and at least 6 months since onset. Interleukins were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay as immune mediators. [Results] Vital signs improved significantly after therapeutic exercise intervention, and the IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, and IL-17 levels also increased significantly after the intervention. [Conclusion] The results demonstrated that measurement of saliva samples may offer a safe minimally invasive method of measuring immune response in bedridden patients. This study suggests that exercise therapy may hold promise as an effective means of improving immunity in bedridden patients and may contribute to preventing aspiration pneumonia and promoting spontaneous recovery.
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