Extra geriatric care aids older patients in return to daily living activities after traumatic injury

Geriatric patients who received extra care after a traumatic injury had improved functional recovery and return to daily living activities compared with patients who did not receive extra care, according to a study in Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery.

“Trauma surgeons have long struggled with the fragility of their older trauma patients who have much greater health risks for the same injuries experienced by younger patients,” Lillian Min, MD, MSHS, of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, stated in a press release. “We have come a long way in improving our survival rates of these patients but what we didn’t know was whether we were returning them to their homes and communities sicker than they were before.”

In the study of patients 65 years or older, Min and colleagues enrolled 37 patients in the pretest control group and 85 patients in the post-test group. The post-test group received extra geriatric care, which was defined as having access to a geriatrician who could discontinue unnecessary medications or avoid medications likely to adversely affect older patients, promote physical rehabilitation, observe patient living situations and caretakers and prevent delirium. Patients answered the Short Functional Status survey of five activities of daily living at the time of admission and again at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months after traumatic injury.

Patients who received extra geriatric care most often retained the ability to shop for personal items. In the group that received extra geriatric care, patients had better functional recovery after controlling for factors such as age, race, gender, injury severity, length of stay and complications.

“This information compels us to do more to help our older patients get back to normal life,” Min said. “Our findings suggest that even small changes in care can lead to decreased complications and improve health outcomes for a vulnerable group.”


Tillou A. JAMA Surg. 2013;doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.4244.

Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.

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