The effectiveness of functional task exercise and physical therapy as prevention of functional decline in community dwelling older people with complex health problems

Petra C. Siemonsma, Jeanet W. Blom*, Hedwig Hofstetter, Ariette T. H. van Hespen, Jacobijn Gussekloo, Yvonne M. Drewes, Nico L. U. van Meeteren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: A physically active lifestyle in older people contributes to the preservation of good health. We assessed the influence of physiotherapy on daily functioning among community dwelling older people (75+) with complex health problems identified with screening, versus usual care. We also compared functional task exercise (FTE), with problems prioritized by older people, trained in the home environment, versus usual preventive physical therapy (PPT). Methods: Design: FTE and PPT were compared in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Both interventions were compared with daily functioning in an observational study: control group. Setting/Participants: Community-dwelling persons aged >= 75 years with daily activity limitations enlisted in 83 general practices (n = 155). Interventions: Both intervention groups (FTE, n = 76 and PPT, n = 79) received individual, 30 min treatments. The control group (n = 228) did not get any experimental intervention offered. Measurements: Groningen Activities of Daily Living Restriction Scale (GARS). Statistical analyses: Linear Mixed Model analysis, correcting for age, sex, baseline scores and clustering by physiotherapist were used to compare the different groups. Results: At baseline, 74% percent of the intervention trial group was female vs 79% in the control group. Median ages were 83.9 and 84.7 respectively. The median baseline GARS-score for the control group was 41.0 (25 and 75 percentile): 35.0; 48.0) and 40.0 (25 and 75 percentile: 32.3; 46.0) for the intervention group (FTE + PPT). The mean change over time was 3.3 (2.5; 4.1) for the control group. Mean difference in change over time between the intervention (FTE + PPT) and the control group was -2.5 (-4.3; -0.6) (p = .009). Between FTE and PPT the difference in change was -0.4 (95% CI: -2.3; 3.0, p = 0.795). Conclusion: An exercise intervention led by physiotherapists may slow down decline in self-reported daily functioning in older persons with daily activity limitations, identified by pro-active case finding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number164
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


  • Functional training
  • Exercise
  • Older people
  • LIFE

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