Background: Recovery of function and regaining muscle strength are challenging after hip fracture. We compared the effectiveness of a 12- versus 6-week outpatient physical therapy program with progressive resistive training (PRT) to increase strength and physical performance.
Methods: This parallel, superiority, 2-group randomized controlled trial was conducted in 4 clinics that enrolled community-dwelling, cognitively intact older adults (+60 years) with a surgical repair of a hip fracture and no major medical conditions. Participants received 12 or 6 weeks of PRT and standardized physical therapy, twice weekly. Pain was monitored throughout. Primary outcome was the change in the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) from baseline to 12-week follow-up. Randomization via a computer-generated allocation sequence was implemented using sealed, sequentially numbered opaque envelopes and assessors were blinded to group assignment.
Results: Participants (81% women) with a mean (SD) age of 77 (8.1) years were enrolled at an average of 18 days after hip fracture surgery and randomized into a 12-week group (n = 50) or a 6-week group (n = 50). Mean (SD) change scores in the 6MWT were 143.8 (81.1) and 161.5 (84.1) m in the 12- and 6-week groups, respectively (both exceeding the minimal clinically important difference of 55 m). The mean between-group difference was -17.7 m (95% CI -50.1, 14.8). Pain during training did not exceed moderate levels nor increase as training intensity increased.
Conclusion: Twelve weeks of physical therapy with PRT was not superior to 6 weeks in improving walking distance. Hip fracture-related pain was relatively low and indicated strength testing and training was well tolerated. Clinical Trials Registration Number: NCT01174589.
Keywords: 6-Minute walk test; Exercise; Muscle; Pain; Rehabilitation.
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