Due to global ageing, more people will suffer from hip fracture in the future, and many will be left with permanent physical impairments. The care burden for people post hip fracture is high. The aim of this study is to measure longitudinal changes in physical activity levels and fear of falling in people after hip fracture who return home after inpatient rehabilitation.
Longitudinal observational study. Participants were recruited from three rehabilitation centres in Victoria, Australia. Self-reported fear of falling (Short Falls Efficacy Scale - International) and physical activity levels (Human Activity Profile - Adjusted Activity Score and Frenchay Activity Index) were assessed at 2 weeks, 3 and 6 months after discharge. Mobility (walking speed) and balance (Timed Up-and-Go test and Step Test) were measured at discharge from rehabilitation.
Thirty-four participants (mean age: 82 years [SD 8]; 62% female) with unilateral hip fracture were recruited. Participants had moderately impaired balance and mobility at discharge compared to age-matched normative data; they were all discharged with a walking aid and were 40% slower in their walking speed. Participants had increased fear of falling and reduced physical activity 2 weeks after discharge, which improved significantly (p < 0.01) over the following 6 months, but scores were still lower than the normative values. At 6 months, participants also had moderate to high levels of fear of falling and were less active than the general population of similar age.
Although fear of falling and physical activity improved in the 6 months following discharge, both remained negatively affected compared to normative data. Rehabilitation post hip fracture should include routine assessment of fear of falling as a potential barrier for return of physical activities.