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Age Ageing. 2013 Nov;42(6):682-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft133. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

The effect of physical rehabilitation on activities of daily living in older residents of long-term care facilities: systematic review with meta-analysis.

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Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK.



the worldwide population is ageing. One expected consequence of this is an increase in morbidity and an associated increased demand for long-term care. Physical rehabilitation is beneficial in older people, but relatively little is known about effects in residents of long-term care facilities.


to examine the effects of physical rehabilitation on activities of daily living (ADL) in elderly residents of long-term care facilities.


systematic review with meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. We included studies that compared the effect of a physical rehabilitation intervention on independence in ADL with either no intervention or an alternative intervention in older people (over 60 years) living in long-term care facilities. We searched 19 databases including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. Two researchers independently screened papers and extracted data. Outcomes of included studies were combined in a standardised mean difference random-effects meta-analysis.


thirteen of 14 studies identified were included in the meta-analysis. Independence in ADL was improved by 0.24 standard units (95% CI: 0.11-0.38; P = 0.0005). This is equivalent to 1.3 points on the Barthel Index (0-20 scale). No significant differences in effect were found based on participant or intervention characteristics. Larger sample size and low attrition were associated with smaller estimates of effect. All studies were assessed to be at risk of bias.


physical rehabilitation may improve independence for elderly long-term care facility residents, but mean effects are small. It is unclear which interventions are most appropriate.


disability; functional independence; nursing home; older people; physical therapy; senior citizen

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