OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between baseline cognitive function and the achievement of walking independence and its maintenance at 1 year in a population of older adults who underwent post-hip fracture (HF) surgery rehabilitation.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Department of rehabilitation and aged care.
PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred six older adults admitted for post-HF surgery rehabilitation.
MEASUREMENTS: All participants aged 65 and older who were completely unable to walk on admission but able to walk before fracture were stratified according to Mini-Mental State Examination score (0–15=moderately severe or severe cognitive impairment (CI), 16–23=mild to moderate CI, ≥24=no CI). Walking ability was defined according to the corresponding Barthel Index subitem, with walking independence at discharge being defined as a score of 12 or more out of 15. Walking ability 1 year after discharge was ascertained by telephone interviews with participants or proxies.
RESULTS: At discharge, 29.6% of participants with moderately severe or severe CI (n=24), 51.9% with mild to moderate CI (n=56) and 78.6% of participants without CI (n=92) were able to walk independently. Among those who achieved walking independence and were alive at 1 year, 12 participants with moderately severe or severe CI (57.1%), 31 with mild to moderate CI (57.7%) and 73 without CI (78.9%) were still capable of walking independently.
CONCLUSION: Although less frequently than in individuals with better cognitive function, walking independence is achievable after HF surgery rehabilitation, and can be maintained at 1 year also in those with moderately severe or severe CI.