Outcomes for high intensity functional exercise for hospitalised older adults

Ms Melissa Raymond1, Dr Kim Jeffs3, Ms Adele Winter1, Professor Anne Holland2,4

1Caulfield Hospital, Alfred Health, Caulfield, Australia, 2La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 3Northern Health, Melbourne, Australia, 4Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia

Aim: To investigate a high intensity functional exercise group in hospitalized older adults.

Method: An assessor-blinded, randomized controlled trial in sub-acute wards at a metropolitan rehabilitation hospital was undertaken in adults ≥65 years (n=468) able to stand with minimum assistance or less from a chair and follow instructions. Intervention (‘group’) participants were offered a standing high intensity functional exercise group three times a week and individual physiotherapy sessions twice a week. Control participants were offered daily individual physiotherapy sessions.

Results: Participants’ mean age was 84.3 (7.1) years and 61% were female. There was no difference between groups for the improvement in Elderly Mobility Scale from admission to discharge (effect size -0.07, 95% Confidence Interval (-0.26 to 0.11), p=0.446) and no difference in discharge destination, p = 0.904. Therapists saved 31 -205 minutes per week treating group participants compared with control participants.

Significance of the findings to allied health: The results suggest that a high intensity functional exercise group program combined with individual physiotherapy may improve mobility to a similar extent to individual physiotherapy alone in hospitalised older adults. Providing physiotherapy in a group setting resulted in increased therapist efficiency. A high intensity exercise group with individual physiotherapy may be an effective and efficient method to provide care to older inpatients.