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Predictors of Discharge Destination in a Geriatric Population After Undergoing Rehabilitation

Lindenberg, Kirstin BPhty1; Nitz, Jennifer C. PhD, MPhty, BPhty, FACP1; Rahmann, Ann PhD, BPhty, Grad Cert Physio2; Bew, Paul MPhty, BPhty, FACP2

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: April/June 2014 - Volume 37 - Issue 2 - p 92–98
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e3182abe79e
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Patients undertaking inpatient rehabilitation comprise a diverse group, including patients with stroke and other neurological conditions, patients who have fallen with or without a resulting fracture, and patients with joint replacements, general debility, or various cardiopulmonary conditions. It is not clear whether diagnosis has an impact on discharge destination in a heterogeneous patient group. The purpose of this study was to determine whether diagnostic category matters or whether it is rehabilitation length of stay (LOS), ability on the 10-Meter Walk Test (10MWT), or Balance Outcome Measure for Elder Rehabilitation (BOOMER) at discharge that predicts discharge destination in elderly patients undergoing rehabilitation who had previously lived at home.

Methods: A retrospective audit was undertaken at a single rehabilitation facility in South East Queensland, Australia, that serviced 4 local short-term care hospitals. Participants were admitted consecutively to the facility between June 2010 and March 2012 who met inclusion criteria. These included a primary diagnosis category of orthopedic conditions, debility, stroke, and other neurological conditions according to the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre and older than 60 years (n = 248). Interventions while being a rehabilitation inpatient comprised usual care physiotherapy individually tailored and incorporating elements of balance, strengthening, and functional exercise. Main outcome measures were discharge to residential aged care facility (RACF) versus home, differences between diagnostic categories in terms of discharge destination, LOS, and performance on outcome measures. Prediction of discharge destination by LOS, 10MWT, and BOOMER performance at discharge was explored.

Results: A total of 28 patients (12.3%) were discharged to RACF. Diagnosis was not correlated with discharge destination (Pearson χ2 = 1.26, P = .74). The variables rehabilitation LOS, an inability to perform the 10MWT at discharge, and discharge BOOMER score of less than 4 can predict discharge destination with 86.4% accuracy (P = .002). This model had a sensitivity of 71.4% (discharge to RACF) and specificity of 93.3% (discharge home).

Discussion: To return home after rehabilitation, patients need to be able to walk at least 10 m and undertake tasks such as moving from sitting to standing, turning around, as well as managing steps. The study revealed that a standardized suite of measures of functional ability and balance may not be appropriate for patients in all diagnostic categories undergoing rehabilitation. Therefore, just as intervention needs to be tailored for the individual patient, the measure of their progress also should be unique.

1Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

2Brighton Rehabilitation Unit, Metro North Hospital & Health Service, Brighton, Queensland, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Jennifer C. Nitz, PhD, MPhty, BPhty, FACP, Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4072 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association