Discharge gait speed and hospital readmission for the elderly population: A pilot study



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ABSTRACT Objective: To describe whether discharge gait speed, after a course of physical therapy, is related to hospital readmission in the elderly population. Design: Observational cross-sectional study of discharge gait speed and a tracking system linking those who were readmitted to the hospital in 3 and 6 months post-discharge. Setting: Acute care, skilled nursing, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities of a regional medical center in the United States. Participants: Individuals (N=172) that were admitted with physical therapy orders with full weight bearing status who could ambulate 20 feet and consented to participate. Participants who had orthopedic or neurologic primary diagnoses or elective surgeries were excluded. Participants were contacted at home at 3 month and 6 months after inpatient stays to determine subsequent readmissions to any inpatient facility. Main Outcome Measure: Discharge gait speed and 3 and 6 month inpatient readmission. Results: Participants who required readmission to an inpatient setting had discharge gait speed of 0.44 m/s ±0.08 (N=12) while those not readmitted had a discharge gait speed of 0.52 m/s ±0.10 (N=23). Independent t-tests failed to show significant differences in the two speeds with the limited participant size. Conclusions: Although significant differences in discharge gait speed were not realized in this small pilot study, discharge gait speed has the potential to be an informative measure of patient status after initial inpatient stay, given the appropriate statistical power. This is a pilot study that requires additional data collection (N=318) to obtain a power of 80% with the possibility of realized differences in the two groups.



Gait Speed, Hospital Readmission, Mobility, Physical Therapy