Sarcopenia, physical rehabilitation and functional outcomes of patients in a subacute geriatric care unit

Dolores Sánchez-Rodríguez, Ester Marco, Ramon Miralles, Mónica Fayos, Sergio Mojal, Martha Alvarado, Olga Vázquez-Ibar, Ferran Escalada, Josep M. Muniesa

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50 Citations (Scopus)


Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength, which in the elderly can result in disability and affect functional outcomes after hospitalization. The aim of this study was to evaluate the functional outcomes and mortality during hospitalization and at three months post-discharge, according to the presence of sarcopenia.Prospective study of 99 patients (38.4% men, aged 84.6) admitted in a subacute geriatric care unit who underwent a rehabilitation intervention. Main outcomes were mortality and functional improvement at discharge and at three-month follow-up. Sarcopenia was assessed by handgrip strength (hydraulic dynamometer) and by body composition bioimpedance.Forty-six (46.5%) patients met diagnostic criteria of sarcopenia. Patients with sarcopenia had a worse prior functional status than those without the condition (Barthel Index: 64.2. ±. 22.8 vs 73.3. ±. 21.8; p= 0.04) but both groups had similar functional decline at admission (Barthel Index: 24. ±. 15.1 vs 28.5. ±. 15.2; p= 0.1) and achieved similar functional improvement at discharge (20.4. ±. 18.3 vs 27.4. ±. 21; p= 0.08). Barthel Index at discharge remained comparatively worse in patients with sarcopenia (44.2. ±. 26.6 vs 55.9. ±. 26.7; p= 0.03). After completing a 3-month at-home rehabilitation program, no changes in functional capacity were observed in patients with sarcopenia; their peers improved their Barthel Index scores (45.5. ±. 24.8 vs 61.6. ±. 26.6; p= 0.007). Mortality rates at 3-month follow-up did not differ between groups.In conclusion, patients with sarcopenia had a worse functional status, similar functional improvement during hospitalization and a lack of recovery after returning home. Further studies are needed to establish long-terms effects on mortality. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Elderly
  • Geriatric rehabilitation
  • In-patient
  • Intermediate care
  • Sarcopenia

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