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STRIDE program to keep hospitalized Veterans mobile

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Recreation aide Ural Kincaid walks with Veteran Wyatt Brinkley on a VA inpatient unit as part of the STRIDE Program.

In nearly any hospital, visitors see room upon room of patients lying in bed, just resting. A 2009 study led by researchers at the Birmingham VA Medical Center estimated that patients aged 65 or older spend about 97 percent of their time in the hospital either in bed or sitting in chairs. Rest is, of course, an important aspect of healing—but prolonged bedrest can have harmful effects, leading to pressure ulcers, deep vein thrombosis and functional decline, especially in older people. Too much bedrest also creates an increased need for institutional care after patients recover from their initial illness or injury.

To combat this problem, VA researchers developed a supervised walking program for hospitalized older adults. The program is called STRIDE (assiSTed eaRly mobIlity for hospitalizeD older vEterans).  STRIDE provides hospitalized Veterans with a targeted gait and balance assessment by a physical therapist, followed by daily walks supervised by a recreation therapy assistant for the remainder of their hospital stay.

The program was originally developed and tested at the Durham, North Carolina, VA Health Care System in 2012. An initial program evaluation found STRIDE participants were more likely to be discharged to their homes instead of a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility, compared to similar patients who did not participate in the program. Eight other VA facilities are now implementing the program. VA researchers believe STRIDE has the potential to become a systemwide approach to address hospital-associated disabilities.

Principal investigator: Susan Nicole Hastings, Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VA Health Care System

Selected publications:

Hastings SN, Sloane R, Morey MC, Pavon JM, Hoenig H. Assisted early mobility for hospitalized older Veterans: preliminary data from the STRIDE program. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Nov;62(11):2180-4.

Hastings SN, Choate AL, Mahanna EP, Floegel TA, Allen KD, Van Houtven CH, Wang V. Early mobility in the hospital: lessons learned from the STRIDE program. Geriatrics 2018, 3(4), 61.

Mobility during hospital stays helps Veterans.” VA Research Currents. 2014 Aug. 14.  


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