Acute medical illness requiring hospitalization usually is a critical event in the trajectory leading to disability in older adults. Functional decline frequently occurs during hospitalization, resulting in a loss of Independence in activities of daily living after discharge. The aim of the study was to assess the functional decline in different ADLs of hospitalized elderly patients in an Acute Care for Elderly (ACE) unit incorporating a body-worn inertial sensor and accompanying custom algorithms. 38 hospitalized older adults (age ≥ 75) were included. The patients completed different functional tasks, including a balance test, Gait Velocity Test (GVT), verbal and arithmetic dual-task gait, and a sit-to-stand ability test at admission and discharge. Movement-related parameters were acquired from a unique tri-axial inertial sensor unit. Maximal muscle strength and muscle power output endpoints were also assessed. The results indicated that significant improvements (p < 0.05) were found at discharge compared with the admission values for gait variability and spatiotemporal parameters in the 4- and 6-meter GVT. These significant gains were also obtained in the verbal GVT. In contrast, a significant reduction was found in the functional status measured with the Barthel Index scale. Regarding to the sit-to-stand ability, lower peak power was observed in the sit-to-stand phase of the task at discharge. In conclusion, inertial sensor unit and our custom, validated, algorithms represent a feasible tool for measuring and monitoring functional trajectory during hospitalization in older adults and they are sensitive to detect differences in movement pattern parameters in different ADLs such as walking and the ability to stand from a seated position.
Keywords: Acute hospitalization; Functional capacity; Movement analysis; Older adults.
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