(HealthDay News) — A clinical demonstration program of supervised walking for older adults admitted to the hospital is feasible and safe, and its participants are more often discharged directly to home, according to a study published online October 30 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

S. Nicole Hastings, MD, from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, NC, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of the STRIDE program among older adults admitted to the hospital with medical illness. STRIDE consisted of a targeted gait and balance assessment by a physical therapist, followed by supervised daily walks for the duration of the hospital stay. Ninety-two STRIDE participants were compared with 35 individuals who were referred for STRIDE but not enrolled.

The researchers found that the median length of stay was 4.7 and 5.7 days, respectively, for STRIDE participants and those receiving usual care (P=0.31). One inpatient fall was reported in each group (not associated with a STRIDE walk). Ninety-two percent of STRIDE participants and 74% of individuals receiving usual care were discharged from hospital to home (P=0.007) rather than a skilled nursing facility. There was no significant between-group difference in terms of 30-day emergency department visit rates and readmission rates.

“STRIDE is a promising interdisciplinary approach to promoting mobility and improving outcomes in hospitalized older adults,” the authors write.

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