Importance: For many older people, long-term functional limitations persist after a hip fracture. The efficacy of a home exercise program with minimal supervision after formal hip fracture rehabilitation ends has not been established.
Objective: To determine whether a home exercise program with minimal contact with a physical therapist improved function after formal hip fracture rehabilitation ended.
Design, setting, and participants: Randomized clinical trial conducted from September 2008 to October 2012 in the homes of 232 functionally limited older adults who had completed traditional rehabilitation after a hip fracture.
Interventions: The intervention group (n = 120) received functionally oriented exercises (such as standing from a chair, climbing a step) taught by a physical therapist and performed independently by the participants in their homes for 6 months. The attention control group (n = 112) received in-home and telephone-based cardiovascular nutrition education.
Main outcomes and measures: Physical function assessed at baseline, 6 months (ie, at completion of the intervention), and 9 months by blinded assessors. The primary outcome was change in function at 6 months measured by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB; range 0-12, higher score indicates better function) and the Activity Measure for Post-Acute Care (AM-PAC) mobility and daily activity (range, 23-85 and 9-101, higher score indicates better function).
Results: Among the 232 randomized patients, 195 were followed up at 6 months and included in the primary analysis. The intervention group (n=100) showed significant improvement relative to the control group (n=95) in functional mobility (mean SPPB scores for intervention group: 6.2 [SD, 2.7] at baseline, 7.2 [SD, 3] at 6 months; control group: 6.0 [SD, 2.8] at baseline, 6.2 [SD, 3] at 6 months; and between-group differences: 0.8 [95% CI, 0.4 to 1.2], P < .001; mean AM-PAC mobility scores for intervention group: 56.2 [SD, 7.3] at baseline, 58.1 [SD, 7.9] at 6 months; control group: 56 [SD, 7.1] at baseline, 56.6 [SD, 8.1] at 6 months; and between-group difference, 1.3 [95% CI, 0.2 to 2.4], P = .03; and mean AM-PAC daily activity scores for intervention group: 57.4 [SD, 13.7] at baseline, 61.3 [SD, 15.7] at 6 months; control group: 58.2 [SD, 15.2] at baseline, 58.6 [SD, 15.3] at 6 months; and between-group difference, 3.5 [95% CI, 0.9 to 6.0], P = .03). In multiple imputation analyses, between-group differences remained significant for SPPB and AM-PAC daily activity, but not for mobility. Significant between-group differences persisted at 9 months for all functional measures with and without imputation.
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients who had completed standard rehabilitation after hip fracture, the use of a home-based functionally oriented exercise program resulted in modest improvement in physical function at 6 months after randomization. The clinical importance of these findings remains to be determined.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00592813.