PARENTS and physicians alike consider bedrest an important adjunct to the treatment of most childhood illnesses. This concept has recently been challenged by authors studying several disorders, including respiratory infections,1 rheumatic fever,2-4 rheumatoid arthritis,2 acute glomerulonephritis,2 tuberculosis,5 and infectious hepatitis.6 These investigators concluded that early ambulation is not harmful and may even be beneficial to some patients. It is not clear why this might be true but, in addition to the obvious emotional benefits, early ambulation may actually result in a reduction in the patient's general activity. To demonstrate this, a controlled study was undertaken measuring activity levels in hospitalized children on bedrest and during full activity. A survey of the literature failed to reveal prior efforts to gather quantitative data on children's activity as a function of bedrest during hospitalization.
The subjects used in the study were 32 boys between 6 and