PURPOSE: The patient's ability to complete their planned physiotherapy session after hip fracture surgery has been proposed as an independent predictor for achieving basic mobility independency upon hospital discharge. However, knowledge of factors limiting mobility is sparse. We therefore examined patient reported factors limiting ability to complete planned physiotherapy sessions as well as limitations for not achieving independency in basic mobility early after hip fracture surgery.
METHODS: A total of 204 consecutive patients with a hip fracture (mean (SD) age of 80 (9.9) years, 47 patients were admitted from a nursing home) were treated in accordance with a multimodal program. The Cumulated Ambulation Score was used to evaluate the patient's independency in three basic mobility activities: getting in and out of bed, sit-to-stand-to-sit from a chair and indoor walking. Pre-defined limitations; pain, motor blockade, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, acute cognitive dysfunction and "other limitations", for not achieving a full Cumulated Ambulation Score or inability to complete planned physiotherapy sessions were noted by the physiotherapist on each of the three first postoperative days. This period was chosen, because of its importance on how well the patients had regained their pre-fracture functional level.
RESULTS: Fatigue and hip fracture-related pain were the most frequent reasons for patients not achieving an independent basic mobility level (> 85%) or not fully completing their planned physiotherapy (> 42%) on all three days. At hospital discharge (median day 10), only 54% of the patients had regained their pre-fracture basic mobility level.
CONCLUSION: Based on the patient's perception, fatigue and pain are the most frequent limitations in not achieving independent basic mobility and not completing physiotherapy after hip fracture surgery. This raises questions whether multimodal peri-operative programs can be further optimized to enhance the early recovery of these frail patients. Implications for rehabilitation Early postoperative mobilization is essential for patients undergoing hip fracture surgery to regain the pre-fracture functional level, in not only the short but also in the long term. The most frequent reasons for not achieving an independent Cumulated Ambulation Score or completing physiotherapy, early after hip fracture surgery, are fatigue, pain, and the habitual cognitive status of patients. Knowledge concerning postoperative fatigue is important for rehabilitation professionals and should contribute as an essential factor when planning physiotherapy.