Geriatric Consult Aided Accident Recovery

Older patients had better long term daily function after injury with geriatric consult

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Seniors can face a loss of daily independence while recovering from an accident. Meeting with a geriatric specialist may help patients get back on their feet after injury.

A recent study followed a group of senior patients after they experienced a traumatic injury.

The results of this study showed that a consultation with a geriatric specialist improved patients’ ability to independently perform daily living activities, especially shopping for personal items.

"Consider visiting a geriatric specialist after serious injury."

Areti Tillou, MD, MSEd, of the University of California Los Angeles, led a team of researchers including senior author Lillian Min, MD, MSHS, of the University of Michigan Medical School, to investigate a way to improve the long-term health of older patients as they recover from an accident.

According to these researchers, 40 percent of all trauma patients by 2050 will be ages 65 and older.

For this study, the researchers compared 85 trauma patients that went through a routine consultation with a geriatric care specialist with 37 patients that did not go through a post-accident consultation.

All of the patients were 65 or older at the time of injury. The patients’ traumatic injuries happened during accidents like car accidents or falls from 2006 through 2010.

The patients were assessed with the Short Functional Status test three, six and 12 months after injury to see how well they could perform five activities of daily living: shopping, bathing, walking, light housework and managing personal finances.

On a scale from 0-5, and before experiencing a traumatic injury, patients averaged a score of 4.6 activities of daily living. After 12 months, patients who had gone through a geriatric consultation scored an average of 3.7 activities of daily living.

Patients who underwent a geriatric consultation after injury scored an average of 0.67 points higher on the activities of daily living score compared with patients who did not go through a consultation.

More than any of the other daily living activities, being able to go shopping was the activity that the patients in the geriatric consultation group maintained compared with the patients who did not go through a consultation.

“We’ve come a long way in improving our survival rates of these patients but what we didn’t know was whether we were returning them to their homes and communities sicker than they were before,” Dr. Min said in a press statement.

“What we found was that geriatric interventions helped older patients take better care of themselves and be more independent.”

“Our findings suggest that even small changes in care can lead to decreased complications and improve health outcomes for a vulnerable group,” Dr. Min said.

The authors of this study recommended that after a traumatic injury, patients ages 65 and older should undergo a consultation with a geriatric specialist.

This study was published in November in JAMA Surgery.

The Older American Independence Centers at University of Michigan, and the University of California Los Angeles helped support funding for this project. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 29, 2013
Last Updated:
December 2, 2013