South African Medical Journal

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The role of chair exercises for older adults following hip fracture

Claire M. Nicholson, Solange Czernwicz, Georgia Mandilas, Isidore Rudolph, Michael J. Greyling


Objectives. To examine the influence of regular participation in chair exercises on postoperative deconditioning in respect of selected physiological, psychological and anthropometric variables.

Design. Quasi-experimental, non-randornised control group pre-test/post-test design where test group (N = 20) and control group (N = 10) were not equivalent because random selection and assignment were not possible.

Subjects. Patients discharged from an orthopaedic ward 8 - 10 days after hip surgery who were cognitively competent (mean score on Mini-Mental State Examination 26 (SO 3.5)), sedentary (mean score on Habitual Physical Activity Questionnaire for the Elderly 7.4 (SO 3.3)) women aged 70 years and above (mean 80 (SO 6.6) years).

Setting. Hip fracture patients admitted to a multidisciplinary geriatric hospital for further medical observation.

Measurements. Abstraction of medical records provided information about co-morbidities and questionnaires assessed demographic, affective and cognitive function. Physiological, psychological and anthropometric status was measured pre- and post-intervention.

Results. Data revealed high variability, suggesting that the effect of the independent variable was obscured by the heterogeneity of the cohort. Both groups improved similarly in grip strength, and in levels of depression and confidence. Body composition data explained the weight maintenance as a consequence of significant gains in fat-free mass in the experimental group. The significant change in systolic blood pressure and heart rate over the exercise and recovery period suggested that the 6-week period of moderate-intensity exercise was adequate to stimulate cardiovascular adaptations.

Conclusions. Whether or not the submaximal chair exercise regimen was of optimal benefit remains unclear. However, the intervention did appear to have contributed to the maintenance of the physical condition of older  women temporarily disabled as a result of a fracture and subsequent hip surgery.

AJOL African Journals Online