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Preoperative 5-Meter Walk Test as a Predictor of Length of Stay After Open Heart Surgery

Wilson, Christopher M. PT, DPT, GCS1,2; Kostsuca, Stephanie R. PT, DPT1; McPherson, Shannon M. BS, SPT2; Warren, Mary C. BS, SPT1,2; Seidell, Janet W. PT, MPT1; Colombo, Reyna PT, MA1

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal: March 2015 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 2–7
doi: 10.1097/CPT.0000000000000005
Research Report

Purpose: To determine if preoperative gait speed over 5 m is a predictor of total hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) after open heart surgery. This would enable hospitals to prepare financially and proactively plan to manage risk for complications associated with increased LOS.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of the results of 252 preoperative 5-Meter Walk Tests (5MWTs) and the relationship with hospital and ICU LOS within the context of patient demographics, gait deviation, and assistive device use.

Results: A significant correlation was found between trial gait speed average and total hospital LOS in days (ρ = 0.22, P < .05) but not for ICU LOS. A significant association (P < .05) was found for patients having a total hospital LOS of >7 days and slower gait speed trial averages (5.0 vs 5.8 seconds, P < .05), increased occurrence of assistive device use (2.5% vs 9.9%, P < .05), and a greater number of ICU readmissions (P < .05).

Conclusions: A significant relationship exists between a slower preoperative gait speed and an increased hospital LOS; however, this relationship is small as gait speed is only one of the several factors influencing LOS. A preoperative 5MWT may be useful to predict which patients are more likely to have an increased hospital LOS after cardiac surgery; however, as the relationship is not a strong one, external factors may more heavily impact a patient's LOS.

1Department of Rehabilitation Services, Beaumont Health System, Troy Hospital, Troy, MI

2Program in Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI

Correspondence: Christopher M. Wilson, PT, DPT, GCS, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Beaumont Hospital, Troy, 44201 Dequindre, Suite 203, Troy, MI 48085 (

This study received financial support from the Michigan Physical Therapy Association Research Institute through the Institute Trustees' Large Research Grant.

Shannon M. McPherson and Mary C. Warren completed this study as a part of graduation requirement from Oakland University's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2015 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, APTA
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