2.12. Assisted rehabilitation for older people

 Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of Exercise Medicine

Doctoral candidate: MHSc Kristiina Niemelä

Time and venue: 2.12.2011 at 12 noon, Tietoteknia Auditorium, Kuopio Campus

Language of the public examination: Finnish

The proportion of aged people in the population is increasing. The physical performance and health-related quality of life (HRQL) of aged people can be improved by developing rehabilitation practices that support their exercise habits and social participation.

This study comprised three sub-studies. Sub-studies 1–2 (publications I–III) examined the effect of inpatient rehabilitation and home training on the physical performance and HRQL of aged people. It also assessed the implementation of a home rehabilitation model from the viewpoint of home rehabilitation assistants. Sub-study 3 (publication IV) examined the effect of rocking chair exercises on the physical performance of aged women.

The study data included interviews and physical performance measurements. The datasets of sub-studies 1–2 (n = 430), partly overlapping and different in size, were gathered in 2006–2008 from war veterans aged 65–99 years participated in inpatient rehabilitation at the Jyväskylä Centre for Care and Rehabilitation for War Veterans and the Kauniala Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for War Veterans, and in a home rehabilitation project. The participants of sub-study 1 completed 2–4 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, and the participants of sub-study 2 one year of home rehabilitation, with regular support from a long-term unemployed person trained as a home rehabilitation assistant. The assistants supported and motivated the participants in independent rehabilitation. The data for sub-study 3 (n = 51) were gathered in 2006–2007 from women aged 73–87 years who participated in group inpatient rehabilitation at Kauniala Hospital. After inpatient rehabilitation, the participants in the rocking chair study practiced a set of exercises five times a week at home, using a spring rocking chair. The intervention lasted six weeks.

During the rehabilitation, the physical test performance of the participants improved. Among women, the experience of pain and disease symptoms were reduced and knee extension strength improved more than among men (publication I). The inpatient rehabilitation study included no control group. After the home rehabilitation, participants assessed their HRQL and health as better and experienced fewer difficulties with mobility. HRQL among women and chair rising among men improved in the intervention group as compared to the control group (publications II–III). Among those practicing rocking chair exercises, functional balance, knee extension strength and walking pace improved (publication IV).

The study demonstrated that inpatient rehabilitation improves the physical performance of aged people. Moreover, regular visits by home rehabilitation assistants improve the HRQL of aged people, with women gaining clearer benefits than men. The implemented home rehabilitation model is functional and enables the use of persons with brief health care training to support the rehabilitants. The rocking chair exercises are a viable home training option for aged people. The new working models supporting rehabilitation described here could be utilised by decision makers in social and health care services for developing home rehabilitation. There should be a greater tolerance towards employing people with brief vocational training to assist health care professionals.

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Health Sciences Kristiina Niemelä, entitled Assisted rehabilitation for older people will be examined at the Faculty of Health Sciences. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Olli J. Heinonen of the University of Turku and the custos will be Professor Rainer Rauramaa of the University of Eastern Finland.

Photo available for download at http://www.uef.fi/vaitoskuva t

For further information, please contact: Kristiina Niemelä, p. 0500 839 013, kristiina.niemela@suomi24.fi

Publishing year: 2011

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