Improving rehabilitation in older people after emergency hospital admission

S McKelvie, Daniel Lasserson, A.M Hall, H.R Richmond, S Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
164 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Older adults are at risk of functional decline during emergency hospital admissions. This review aims to understand which exercise-based interventions are effective in improving function for older adults who experience unplanned admissions.

Methods: Database searches identified randomised control trials (RCTs) comparing exercise based interventions with usual hospital care. The primary outcome was functional status measured by activities of daily living (ADL) scores. Secondary outcomes were length of hospital stay (LOS), mortality and readmissions. Subgroup meta-analyses were conducted on interventions delivered in-hospital only compared to interventions provided in-hospital and post-discharge.

Results: After reviewing 8365 studies, nine studies were eligible for inclusion. Seven were included in the meta-analysis. Participants from five countries had a mean age of 79 years (1602 participants). Usual care varied considerably and the interventions showed heterogeneity with different combinations of strengthening, resistance, high intensity or mobility exercises. There were limited descriptions of exercise intervention delivery and participant adherence. There is low quality evidence supporting exercise interventions including both in hospital and post-discharge components (3 trials, SMD 0.56 (-0.02, 1.13)). Trials involving only in-hospital interventions were inconclusive for functional gains (5 trials, SMD -0.04 (-0.31, 0.22)). Conclusions: Exercise based rehabilitation for older patients after emergency hospitalisation improves functional ability if the intervention starts in hospital and continues post-discharge. No conclusions can be made on the effective exercise dose or content.

Implications: Understanding the components of exercise interventions will improve service planning and delivery. Further studies are needed to understand the effective dose and content of exercise for hospitalised older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Early online date20 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Rehabilitation
  • Older adults
  • Exercise
  • Hospital admission


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