Early initiation of physical therapy after geriatric hip fracture surgery is associated with shorter hospital length of stay and decreased thirty-day mortality

Published:September 24, 2022DOI:



      While the importance of timely surgery and early mobilization are understood in geriatric fracture populations, the relationship between timing of initiation of physical therapy (PT) postoperatively on length of stay (LOS) and mortality has not been well delineated. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of PT initiated on postoperative day zero (POD0) on LOS and mortality in geriatric hip fracture patients.

      Materials and Methods

      Patients aged 60 and over who underwent hip fracture surgery, including arthroplasty or internal fixation, between January 2017 and December 2019 at three affiliated academic hospitals were identified. Retrospective chart review and review of hospital charges were used to determine patient demographics, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), surgery performed, timing of postoperative PT visits, LOS, and mortality.


      Of 1,551 patients identified that met inclusion criteria, 83 (5.3%) received PT on POD0. Most patients (76.3%) received PT on postoperative day 1 (POD1), and 18.4% received first PT on postoperative day 2 or later (POD2+). Time from admission to surgery, CCI, sex, and BMI did not differ significantly between groups. The age difference between patients in the POD0 and the POD1/POD2+ groups was statistically significant with the mean age in the POD1/2+ group being 2.3 years older than the POD0 group (p=0.045). There was no difference in postoperative length of stay (PLOS) based on type of fixation. The average PLOS was 3.4 days in the POD0 PT group compared to 5.2 days in the POD1 group (p<0.0001) and 8.2 days in the POD2+ group (p<0.0001). The POD0/1 group had significantly lower mortality than the POD2+ group [3.7% vs. 9.8%, OR 0.354 (95% CI 0.217-0.575), p<0.0001].


      Earlier initiation of PT postoperatively is associated with significantly shorter total and postoperative LOS and initiation of PT before POD2 is associated with decreased 30-day mortality. Each day that initiation of PT is delayed is associated with a two- to three-day increase in LOS.


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