A dedicated mobility technician improves inpatient mobility


Background: Studies have shown improved hospital outcomes in patients who ambulate regularly. Many assisted mobility protocols aimed at ambulating patients multiple times daily are nurse centered. However, implementation is difficult because of the large number of nursing duties and difficulty finding time away from other competing responsibilities.

Dr. Ryan Nelson, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans

Dr. Ryan Nelson

Study design: Single-blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Single-center 1,440-bed tertiary care hospital.

Synopsis: This study randomized 102 moderately impaired adult inpatients aged 60 years and older with Activity Measures for Post-Acute Care mobility scores of 16-20 to either dedicated regular ambulation sessions with mobility technicians or usual care with hospital nurse–driven protocol. Patients who achieved greater than 400 steps were more likely to discharge to home rather than post–acute care (71% vs. 46%; P = .01). Assisted ambulation did not decrease length of stay or affect the discharge disposition, but it did increase the total daily number of steps taken by patients (1,182 vs. 726; P = .02, per-protocol analysis) and the patients’ mobility scores (18.90 vs. 18.27, P = .04).

Bottom line: A dedicated mobility technician to provide assisted ambulation for older inpatients can improve patient mobility.

Citation: Hamilton AC et al. Increasing mobility via in-hospital ambulation protocol delivered by mobility technicians: A pilot randomized controlled trial. J Hosp Med. 2019;14:272-7.

Dr. Nelson is a hospitalist at Ochsner Health System, New Orleans.

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