Delays in starting physical therapy after hospital discharge worsen deconditioning in older adults. Intervening quickly can minimize the negative effects of deconditioning. Telerehabilitation is a strategy that increases access to rehabilitation, improves clinical outcomes, and reduces costs. This paper presents the protocol for a pragmatic clinical trial that aims to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a multi-component intervention offered by telerehabilitation for discharged older adults awaiting physical therapy for any specific medical condition.
This is a pragmatic randomized controlled clinical trial with two groups: telerehabilitation and control. Participants (n=230) will be recruited among individuals discharged from hospitals who are in the public healthcare system physical therapy waiting lists. The telerehabilitation group will receive a smartphone app with a personalized program (based on individual’s functional ability) of resistance, balance, and daily activity training exercises. The intervention will be implemented at the individuals’ homes. This group will be monitored weekly by phone and monthly through a face-to-face meeting until they start physical therapy. The control group will adhere to the public healthcare system’s usual flow and will be monitored weekly by telephone until they start physical therapy. The primary outcome will be a physical function (Timed Up and Go and 30-s Chair Stand Test). The measurements will take place in baseline, start, and discharge of outpatient physical therapy. The economic evaluations will be performed from the perspective of society and the Brazilian public healthcare system.
The study will produce evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of multi-component telerehabilitation intervention for discharged older adult patients awaiting physical therapy, providing input that can aid the implementation of similar proposals in other patient groups.
Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials (ReBEC), RBR-9243v7. Registered on 24 August 2020.