AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Goal-oriented Rehab Improves Recovery in Older Adults

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Goal-oriented, motivational physical and occupational therapy helps older patients recover more fully from broken hips, strokes and other ailments that land them in skilled nursing facilities for rehabilitation, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Enhanced Medical Rehabilitation — an approach in which physical and occupational therapists work to engage patients more fully during therapy sessions — helped patients recover function better than standard physical and occupational therapy that was provided to others in the same skilled nursing facilities, the researchers found.

“We found that when you engage and motivate people, they do better,” said the study’s first author, Eric J. Lenze, MD, a professor of psychiatry.

Patients receiving enhanced rehab did not get more or longer therapy sessions. Instead, therapists focused on specific goals important to individual patients, and they delivered, on average, 24 motivational messages about those goals during every therapy session. That approach resulted in a 25 percent improvement in functional recovery.

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