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Tracking Recovery After Hip Fracture

Posted on: 04/20/2006
Getting up from a chair, on and off the toilet, and putting on shoes and socks may seem like simple tasks. But for someone recovering from a hip fracture, these are important daily skills that can be slow to return. In this study researchers develop and test a new way to measure function after hip fracture. It's called the Lower Extremity Gain Scale or LEGS.

In the past, recovery of function was assessed using self-report measures. Nurses and doctors asked the patient (or family member) what activities he or she could (or couldn't) do.

There are problems with this type of testing. For one thing, patients and their family members or caregivers overestimate the patient's ability. The family wants to encourage independence. The patient wants to avoid dependence. Typical questions asked don't always reflect small, but important, changes. Focus on walking doesn't give the whole picture. The patient may be able to walk, but can't pick up a sock from the floor.

LEGS gives normal values for function in adults 65 years old or older after hip fracture. Results can be used to gauge recovery. Nine activities such as walking, dressing, and toileting are included. Length of time it takes to complete an activity with or without assistance is taken into consideration. A patient whose scores fall outside the normal values may need more rehab or closer monitoring at home.

The authors report LEGS is easy to give, takes a small amount of time, and tracks patient recovery of day-to-day function. It is a reliable tool to use for adults 65 and older up to one year after hip fracture.

Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, et al. The Lower Extremity Gain Scale: A Performance-Based Measure to Assess Recovery After Hip Fracture. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. March 2006. Vol. 87. No. 3. Pp. 430-436.

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