The aim of this work was to evaluate the time course of changes in strength and functional performance in elderly hospitalized medical patients. This was a prospective observational study in elderly medical patients of age 65 years or older at a geriatric department.Measurements were obtained on days 2 to 4, day 5 to 8, and days 9 to 13. Functional performance was measured with De Morton Mobility Index (DEMMI) test and a 30-second chair stand test (30-s CST). Muscular strength was measured with handgrip strength. Activity level was determined with accelerometry (ActivPAL).
Results in DEMMI and 30-s CST gradually improved (P < 0.05), whereas handgrip strength remained unchanged (P > 0.05). Larger functional improvements were observed in patients with “high” compared to “low” and “moderate” activity level (P < 0.05). Changes in DEMMI score correlated with changes in 30-s CST (P < 0.05); however, changes in DEMMI score and 30-s CST were more likely to occur in patients with a low versus high functional level, respectively.
Functional performance of the lower extremities in geriatric patients improves moderately over the time of a hospital stay of less than 14 days, with larger improvements in patients with high activity level. The DEMMI test and the 30-s CST seem to be complementary to each other when evaluating functional changes in a geriatric hospital population.