Progressive Rehabilitation Benefits Frail Seniors

A new study has found that patients who are older and have acute heart failure-related hospitalizations benefit more from “early, transitional, tailored, progressive rehabilitation” therapy reports McKnights. There are more functional benefits and patients have an enhanced quality of life.

The patients studied were frailer, had frequent hospitalizations and a prolonged recovery. The study included 349 patients diagnosed with heart failure and impaired physical function. About 97% were frail and had an average of five comorbidities.

The patients began rehabilitation therapy during or quickly after their hospitalization. The four physical-function domains were balance, endurance, mobility, and strength. The study included 36 outpatient sessions and patients were evaluated after three months with the Short Physical Performance Battery.

Half of the participants were in the intervention group and the other half were in a control group. Those in the former had drastically improved physical function compared to those in the latter. Dr. Dalane W. Kitzman, M.D. reported that there were additional benefits to a six-minute walking distance analysis, quality of life, depression and frailness.

However, the authors of the study also reported patients had “incomplete recovery and high rates of rehospitalization, death and long-term loss of independence after hospital discharge”. This was noted in both groups.

Stefan D. Anker, M.D., Ph.D., of Charité University and Andrew J.S. Coats, D.M., from University of Warwick Coventry congratulated the authors of the study for developing “ a program that is pragmatic, widely applicable, and able to be duplicated relatively easily in practice.” They stated the results of their study “provide a compelling argument for the adoption of exercise rehabilitation as standard care, even for elderly, frail patients with acute heart failure.”

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