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June 8, 1994

Rehabilitation for Frail Nursing Home Residents

Author Affiliations

Presbyterian Homes/McGraw Care Center Evanston, Ill

JAMA. 1994;271(22):1740. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510460032015

To the Editor.  —Dr Mulrow and colleagues1 have attempted to assess whether a physical therapy (PT) program tailored to the long-stay, frail elderly nursing home resident could improve physical function and self-perceived health. The study extends PT outcomes research for nursing home residents but differs from previous studies in that a randomized controlled design was used. During a 4-month period, two matched groups of nursing home residents received either PT or friendly visits. In the PT group, using Physical Disability Index (PDI) subscales, the study demonstrated modest improvements in mobility (15.5%), strength (9.2%), and range of motion (0.4%), and insignificant improvements in self-perceived health. Average resource utilization was $1220 for the PT group and $189 for the friendly visits group.These data need to be interpreted cautiously prior to their widespread application to similar populations nationally. Specifically, the reliability of the tests conducted for baseline and follow-up measurements require

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