H. Tolstedt, S. Henry, S. Phillips, N. Schibig, J. Westhafer, and C. Papadopoulos

Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma WA.

The number of individuals over 65 years is increasing. Amid the continual rise in the elderly population, grows the concern for health issues associated with an ageing society. Following discharge from a hospital, older adults may enter a Medicare rehabilitation unit. The goal of these rehabilitative services is to achieve independence and return the individual to his/her prior living situation. PURPOSE: The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the functional ability of individuals following a rehabilitation program in a retirement community. METHODS: Eleven participants (mean age: 82.5 ± 15.9 yrs.) who admitted at a Medicare rehabilitation unit completed functional tests at baseline and pre-discharge from the rehabilitation unit. These tests included the 30-sec chair stand, the 30-sec arm curl, the chair sit and reach, the 8-foot up and go, and the one leg balance. Participants completed a rehabilitation program by trained and licensed physical and occupational therapists at the rehabilitation technology room of a skilled nursing facility. Before discharge, participants' functional ability was assessed using the above tests. Paired t test was used to evaluate differences between baseline and pre-discharge assessments. Significance was established a priori at p < 0.05. RESULTS: Six participants completed the baseline and pre-discharge assessments. The average stay of the participants at the rehabilitation unit was 2 weeks. Statistical analysis revealed no significant difference for any of the functional assessments between baseline and pre-discharge measurements. For the majority of the assessments, however, the participants showed improvements. Time to complete the 8-foot up and go test decreased by 14%. On average, participants were able to complete 2 more repetitions with each arm at pre-discharge compared to the baseline. Chair sit and reach test improved by 54%. CONCLUSION: These results show that the rehabilitation program implemented improves the functional ability of older adults. However, more research is needed to determine if these improvements are maintained after discharge.

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