Background: The ability to predict the long-term physical function and prognosis of hip fracture patients during the early postoperative period is essential for surgeons and physical therapists as well as for patients and their families. The purpose of this study was to determine whether early functional assessment correlated with and/or predicted long-term function after surgery to treat a displaced femoral neck fracture.
Methods: Sixty-two patients undergoing hemiarthroplasty for a displaced femoral neck fracture were evaluated prospectively; a minimum follow-up of two years was required. Validated functional assessments, including the Lower Extremity Measure and the Timed Up and Go test, were utilized, and scores were analyzed with respect to patient baseline data.
Results: The functional level of patients decreased significantly after the injury, with the mean Lower Extremity Measure score decreasing from 87.7 to 62.4 and the need for a walking aid increasing from 36% to 54% at two years postoperatively (p < 0.05 for both). The Timed Up and Go test scores at four days and three weeks postoperatively were significantly higher in patients who needed a walking aid at two years compared with independently walking patients (p < 0.05). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of the Timed Up and Go test scores revealed that the optimal threshold for predicting the need for a walking aid at two years was fifty-eight seconds at four days postoperatively and twenty-six seconds at three weeks. Also, the need for a walking aid at two years was ninetyfold higher when the Timed Up and Go test score at three weeks postoperatively exceeded the twenty-six seconds threshold.
Conclusions: The Timed Up and Go test was an early clinical indicator of future physical function in patients with a hip fracture treated with hemiarthroplasty. Innovative clinical approaches to anticipate future function will contribute to increasing the efficiency of overall management of this growing set of patients.