The aim of this work was to evaluate the time course of changes in strength and functional performance in elderly hospitalized medical patients.
This was a prospective observational study in elderly medical patients of age 65 years or older at a geriatric department.
Measurements were obtained on days 2 to 4, day 5 to 8, and days 9 to 13. Functional performance was measured with De Morton Mobility Index (DEMMI) test and a 30-second chair stand test (30-s CST). Muscular strength was measured with handgrip strength. Activity level was determined with accelerometry (ActivPAL).
Results in DEMMI and 30-s CST gradually improved (P
< 0.05), whereas handgrip strength remained unchanged (P
> 0.05). Larger functional improvements were observed in patients with “high” compared to “low” and “moderate” activity level (P
< 0.05). Changes in DEMMI score correlated with changes in 30-s CST (P
< 0.05); however, changes in DEMMI score and 30-s CST were more likely to occur in patients with a low versus high functional level, respectively.
Functional performance of the lower extremities in geriatric patients improves moderately over the time of a hospital stay of less than 14 days, with larger improvements in patients with high activity level. The DEMMI test and the 30-s CST seem to be complementary to each other when evaluating functional changes in a geriatric hospital population.
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Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to (1) describe changes in mobility and muscle strength of geriatric patients during a hospital stay of less than 14 days, (2) understand the significance of physical activity during hospital admission in geriatric patients, and (3) discuss the potential limitations of measures for assessing mobility and lower extremity strength status and change during a hospital admission.
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