The use of a mobility assessment tool may be predictive of early postoperative complications, longer hospital stays, and discharges to nursing homes among older patients.

In a recent study, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center used the Mobility Assessment Tool: Short Form (MAT-sf) to assess 197 men and women over age 69 who underwent elective, noncardiac, inpatient surgery at Wake Forest Baptist over a 20-month period.

The researchers suggest that the patients’ self-reported scores on the tool—which features animated video clips of 10 common physical activities, each followed by questions about the participant’s ability to perform the particular task—were predictive of their postsurgery outcomes.

Taking into account the patients’ scores on the MAT-sf, as well as the findings from four other preoperative risk assessments, the researchers suggest that low (poor) scores on the MAT-sf were associated with short-term complications, later time to discharge, and increased nursing home placement to a greater degree than any of the other indicators, according to a media release from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“Mobility is a powerful indicator of overall health in the elderly, and our results indicate that self-reported mobility, as measured by the MAT-sf, can complement existing assessment tools in determining which patients are at risk of adverse postoperative outcomes,” says Leanne Groban, MD, professor of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

“The traditional risk assessments may be too comprehensive, too focused on single organ systems or too impractical to be effective in this setting,” Groban adds.

The next steps will be to validate these findings in a larger, multi-center study and to test whether preoperative strength and balance training might limit undesirable postoperative outcomes in older adults with mobility limitations, per the release.

“Studies such as this will help determine future clinical pathways aimed at reducing adverse outcomes while improving patients’ functionality and speeding their return to independence,” Groban states.

The study was published recently in the journal Anesthesiology.

[Source(s): Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Science Daily]