Community-dwelling older adults experiencing hip fracture often fail to achieve adequate walking capacity following surgery and rehabilitation. Effects of psychological factors on post-fracture walking capacity are poorly understood. Accordingly, this paper investigates effects of psychological resilience on observed walking capacity measures in older adults following hip fracture, controlling for important covariates.
Data were drawn from the Community Ambulation Project, a clinical trial of 210 community-dwelling adults aged ≥60 years who experienced a minimal trauma hip fracture and were randomized to one of two 16-week home-based physical therapist-guided interventions. Psychological resilience was measured at study baseline using the 6-item Brief Resilience Scale (BRS); scores were classified into groups in order to distinguish levels of self-reported resilience. Walking capacity was assessed at study baseline and 16 weeks later using 4-Meter Gait Speed (4MGS), 50-Foot Walk Test (50FWT), and 6-Minute Walk Distance (SMWD). In multivariate analyses of covariance in which 16-week follow-up values of each walking measure were outcomes, covariates included clinical trial arm, gender, age, and baseline values of: walking measure corresponding to the outcome; body mass index; depressive symptom severity; degree of psychological optimism; cognitive status; informal caregiver need; and days from hospital admission to randomization.
Increases between baseline and 16 weeks later in mean gait speed in meters/sec (m/s) and walking distance in meters (m) in 4MGS, 50FWT and SMWD were 0.06 m/s (p = 0.061), 0.11 m/s (p < 0.01), and 25.5 m (p = 0.056) greater, respectively, in the most resilient BRS group compared to the least resilient BRS group.
Higher levels of psychological resilience were associated with greater walking speed and distance. Psychological resilience represents a potentially clinically important pathway and intervention target, toward the goal of improving walking capacity among older adults known to have substantial residual disability following hip fracture.