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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1997 Nov;45(11):1371-81.

Geriatric rehabilitation: state of the art.

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service (117), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.



To provide a clinically useful conceptual framework for the evaluation and treatment of disability in older persons, to review the rehabilitation of common conditions affecting function in older persons, and to discuss the effects of the ongoing changes in the healthcare system on geriatric rehabilitation.


MedLine search and review of relevant texts for information on (1) geriatric disability and its treatment, (2) recent high quality research, guidelines, and review articles relevant to the rehabilitation of conditions commonly causing geriatric disability, (3) effects of recent changes in the healthcare system on geriatric rehabilitation.


Several pertinent models for geriatric disability were identified. These are explicated, along with information on the epidemiology of geriatric disability and its causes and relevant clinical applications. Rehabilitation is reviewed for musculoskeletal disorders, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, amputation, cardiopulmonary disorders, hip fracture, and deconditioning. Changes in the healthcare system appear to be affecting geriatric rehabilitation, especially the advent of managed care; relevant articles and opinions are reviewed, along with strategies to accommodate these changes.


Our understanding of the causes of disability in the older population has improved significantly over the last decade. There has also been noteworthy progress in our knowledge about the effects of selected rehabilitation interventions, especially exercise-related interventions. However, the cost-effectiveness of many rehabilitative interventions remains unclear, particularly for differing patient groups across the continuum of care. More research will be needed to evaluate the effects of managed care on rehabilitation outcomes in older persons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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