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Gustavson AM, Malone DJ, Boxer RS, Forster JE, Stevens-Lapsley JE. Application of High-Intensity Functional Resistance Training in a Skilled Nursing Facility: An Implementation Study. Physical Therapy. 2020 Sep 28; 100(10):1746-1758.
OBJECTIVE: Rehabilitation in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) is under scrutiny to deliver high-quality care and superior outcomes in less time. High-intensity resistance training demonstrates functional improvements in community-dwelling and long-term care populations but has not been generalized to the SNF population. The purpose of this study was to evaluate implementation issues including safety and feasibility and to provide preliminary information on effectiveness of rehabilitation focused on high-intensity functional resistance training in an SNF. METHODS: The implementation study design consisted of 2 nonrandomized independent groups (usual care and high intensity) that were staged within a single SNF. The i-STRONGER program (IntenSive Therapeutic Rehabilitation for Older Skilled NursinG HomE Residents) integrates principles of physiologic tissue overload into rehabilitation. Physical therapists administered the Short Physical Performance Battery and gait speed at evaluation and discharge. Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance was used to evaluate the implementation process. An observational checklist and documentation audits were used to assess treatment fidelity. Regression analyses evaluated the response of functional change by group. RESULTS: No treatment-specific adverse events were reported. Treatment fidelity was high at > 99%, whereas documentation varied from 21% to 50%. Patient satisfaction was greater in i-STRONGER, and patient refusals to participate in therapy sessions trended downward in i-STRONGER. Patients in i-STRONGER exhibited a 0.13 m/s greater change in gait speed than in the usual care group. Although not significant, i-STRONGER resulted in a 0.64-point greater change in the Short Physical Performance Battery than usual care, and average SNF length of stay was 3.5 days shorter for i-STRONGER patients. CONCLUSION: The findings from this study indicate that implementation of a high-intensity resistance training framework in SNFs is safe and feasible. Furthermore, results support a signal effectiveness of improving function and satisfaction, although the heterogeneity of the population necessitates a larger implementation study to confirm. IMPACT STATEMENT: This pragmatic study demonstrates that high-intensity resistance training in medically complex older adults is safe and favorable in SNFs. This work supports the need to fundamentally change the intensity of rehabilitation provided to this population to promote greater value within post-acute care. Furthermore, this study supports the application of implementation science to rehabilitation for rapid and effective translation of evidence into practice.