7 May 2018

Rehabilitation: UPMC International Workshop

Rehabilitation: UPMC International Workshop

The international workshop “Physical Exercise as a Tool for Prevention and Treatment: Beyond the Concept of Rehabilitation” took place in the Sala Fellini of Parco dell’Acqua Santa, Terme di Chianciano, in Chianciano Terme (Italy) on May 3, 2018.

The event, organized by UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), was endorsed by:

More than 70 between surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, dietists, and psychologists participated. The workshop, free and approved for 6 CME credits (provider: ADNKronos Salute), involved 15 speakers and moderators from all over Italy (Rome, Florence, Chianciano Terme, Milan) and U.S.

Physical activity and rehabilitation

Many international studies have acknowledged the key role of physical exercise in preventing and treating many non-communicable diseases. Exercise especially has a positive effect on heart and brain functions. Therefore, it represents a tool for prevention and care of cognitive decline in the elderly. A physical activity monitored and focused on the patient is an important aspect of the therapeutic and recovery process, even during rehabilitation after a cardio-cerebrovascular event.

The “athletic” proteins

New scientific researches, including some conducted by UPMC and UPMC Italy, prove that there are at least two “athletic” proteins capable of slowing down the cellular, therefore biological, aging process. So, these proteins offer the body more quantity and quality of life.


The first protein is called klotho. It is a hormone belonging to the transmembrane protein family, key for increasing insulin sensitivity, and regulating the metabolic and aging processes. Klotho produces higher benefits if its activity is stimulated by physical exercise.


Myokine is a substance produced and released by muscle fibers when subjected to contraction, occurring with any movement-related action, which has vital effects on the entire organism.

Klotho and myokine can:

  • slow the aging process, especially in elderly patients
  • contrast the loss of strength and muscle mass
  • enhance cardiovascular functions, cell resistance to stress
  • help preserve cognitive functions

UPMC research projects

“Our latest research shows that muscle contraction induced by exercise and neuromuscular electric stimulation can increase klotho levels and the regenerative potential of elderly patients’ muscles, with remarkable benefits for reducing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases,” says Fabrisia Ambrosio, Associate Professor at the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, and Director of Rehabilitation, UPMC International.    “These promising results show that exercise, as part of rehabilitation programs tailored to match patients’ physical conditions, plays a role in contrasting the decline of tissues and muscle fibers, as well as cognitive functions, especially for the preservation of memory.”

Another study funded by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development is being carried out jointly by UPMC and ISMETT. The aim is to assess the potential of neuromuscular electric stimulation in preventing cognitive declines in long-term ICU patients.

During the workshop, participants visited the Medical and Wellness Center of the UPMC Institute for Health Chianciano Terme. The Medical gym offers a cardiac rehabilitation program, both private and covered by the NHS, and personalized exercise plans for the prevention of cardiovascular, liver, and metabolic diseases. This project is a result of a recent collaboration project between UPMC, Terme di Chianciano, University of Siena, and Technogym, a leading company in the field of fitness and wellness.

Download the PROGRAM of the event.