Patients with hip fractures who undergo standard rehabilitation procedures could improve their recovery by following a home based exercise program, a new research suggests.
The study has been recently published online in the journal JAMA.
The researcher which is led by Nancy K. Latham of Boston University Massachusetts, have said that following a hip fracture around 39% of females and over 50% of males have either passed away or are living in care homes.
"Many of these patients are no longer able to independently complete basic functional tasks that they could perform prior to the fracture, such as walking one block or climbing five steps 2 years after a fracture," researchers have said.
They have recognised that it hasn’t been established whether a home-based exercise program could improve the physical condition of patients who have suffered a hip fracture.
In order to find out the team analysed 232 hip fracture patients who had undergone a standard rehabilitation.
Patients were randomly split into two groups. The first group contained 120 patients who carried a home exercise program to rehab their hip. The program included exercises such as standing on a chair and climbing steps.
For safety measures all exercises included in the program were taught to patients by physiotherapists. The patients practised these exercises in their homes for 6 months.
The second group was made of up 112 patients who received cardiovascular nutrition education via home visits and phone calls for 6 months.
195 patients had their physical function checked 6 months after the study finished and again after 9 months. 100 of these patients were in the exercise group program and the other 95 were in the nutrition education group.
Home exercise regime 'improved physical function and balance'
The study revealed that patients who carried out the home exercises showed a great improvement in their physical condition and balance when compared to the nutrition education group.
The physical improvement of the hip function was still noticeable 9 months after the study ended.
The researchers said that: "The traditional approach to rehabilitation for hip fracture leaves many patients with long-term functional limitations that could be reduced with extended rehabilitation."
Budget constraints mean that many patients who suffer hip fractures are unlikely to receive extended rehabilitation as outpatient therapy costs are already increasing by an average of 4% per year
There are alternatives though. Outpatient physical therapy services often involve short episodes with a limited number of appointments followed by discharge and a home exercise programme.
"The findings from our study suggest that this approach could be introduced to patients after completion of traditional physical therapy following hip fracture and may provide a more effective way for these patients to continue to exercise in their own homes."
However the research team highlighted that further research is required in order to determine whether this rehabilitation approach can be applied in a cost-effective manner.
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