The aim of this study was to examine the association between sarcopenia and recovery of independence in urination and defecation in patients undergoing convalescent rehabilitation.
This single-center, retrospective cohort study included post-acute rehabilitation patients. Sarcopenia was diagnosed using the muscle mass index and handgrip strength according to the updated criteria of the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia 2019. Study outcomes and the recovery of independence in urination and defecation were evaluated using the sphincter control items of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) at discharge: urination (FIM-Bladder) and defecation (FIM-Bowel), respectively. Multivariate regression analyses were used to determine whether sarcopenia at baseline was associated with the study outcomes. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
After enrollment, 917 patients (mean age 74.7 ± 13.5 y; 58% women) were included in the final analyses. Sarcopenia was present in 451 patients (49.2%). The median FIM-Bladder and FIM-Bowel scores at admission were 5 [2-7] and 5 [3-7], respectively. Multivariate analyses showed that the presence of sarcopenia at admission was independently and negatively associated with FIM-Bladder and FIM-Bowel at discharge (all P < 0.001), respectively, after adjusting for potential confounders including baseline outcome variables, FIM, and disease.
Sarcopenia was negatively associated with the recovery of independence in urination and defecation in a post-acute rehabilitation setting. This relationship was independent of physical and cognitive level and disease. Early detection of sarcopenia and treatment by rehabilitation nutrition should be implemented to predict and maximize improvement in toileting independence in this population.

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