Mobilisation and physiotherapy intervention following hip fracture: snapshot survey across six countries from the Fragility Fracture Network Physiotherapy Group

Disabil Rehabil. 2022 Nov;44(22):6788-6795. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.1974107. Epub 2021 Sep 12.


Purpose: Hip fracture guidelines recommend early mobilisation, multidisciplinary care, physiotherapy and fall prevention interventions. This study documents mobilisation practices and physiotherapy interventions provided post-hip fracture in six countries.

Materials and methods: Physiotherapists from orthopaedic wards in Denmark, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Norway and Ireland provided information regarding mobilisation and physiotherapy for 10 consecutive hip fracture patients (>60 years), between 2014 and 2018.

Results: Physiotherapists (n = 107) entered data on 426 patients. Two-thirds of patients (283, 66%) attempted standing 0-1 days after surgery (range: 0% of patients in Spain to 92% in Norway). Fewer patients (199, 47%) attempted walking on day 0-1 (range: 0% Spain/Brazil to 69% Norway). Physiotherapy to mobilise every weekday was provided to 356 patients (84%, range: 60% Ireland to 100% Spain). On weekends, physiotherapy to mobilise was limited (175, 40%, range: 0% Spain to 81% Brazil) but 298 patients (70%) mobilised with non-physiotherapy staff (range: 0% Spain to 96% Denmark/Ireland). Physiotherapy treatments included mobility, gait training, and range-of-motion exercises. Referral to fall prevention interventions was low (93, 22%, range: 0% Spain to 76% Ireland).

Conclusion: Stronger compliance with guideline recommendations on early mobilising, weekend mobilising and referral to fall prevention interventions post hip-fracture is needed in some countries.Implications for rehabilitation This study provides a snapshot of mobilisation and physiotherapy practice for hip fracture patients in six countries. The results suggest a need to improve systems and approaches in some countries to enhance compliance with recommendations specifically relating to: • early attempts at standing and walking post-surgery. • opportunities to mobilise on weekends (with physiotherapist and/or other staff). • broader range of multidisciplinary care e.g., geriatric review, occupational therapy and nutrition advice. • use of standardised tests by physiotherapists post-surgery. • referral to fall prevention interventions.

Keywords: Hip fracture; mobilisation; older people; physiotherapy; rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Early Ambulation
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Hip Fractures* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Walking