Scientific publications

Effects of Exercise Intervention for the Management of Delirium in Hospitalized Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Apr 6, 2024 | Magazine: Journal of the American Medical Director Association

Lucía Lozano-Vicario  1 , Fabiola Zambom-Ferraresi  2 , Fabricio Zambom-Ferraresi  3 , Mikel L Sáez de Asteasu  3 , Arkaitz Galbete-Jiménez  2 , Ángel Javier Muñoz-Vázquez  4 , Bernardo Abel Cedeno-Veloz  5 , Antón De la Casa-Marín  2 , Iranzu Ollo-Martínez  2 , Joaquín Fernández-Irigoyen  6 , Enrique Santamaría  6 , Ramón San Miguel Elcano  7 , José Ramón Ortiz-Gómez  8 , Román Romero-Ortuño  9 , Mikel Izquierdo  3 , Nicolás Martínez-Velilla  10

Objective: Delirium is a serious neuropsychiatric syndrome frequently occurring in hospitalized older adults, for which pharmacological treatments have shown limited effectiveness. Multicomponent physical exercise programs have demonstrated functional benefits; however, the impact of exercise on the course of delirium remains unexplored. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of an individualized, multicomponent exercise intervention on the evolution of delirium and patient outcomes.

Design: A single-center, single-blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting and participants: Medical inpatients with delirium in an acute geriatric unit of a tertiary public hospital.

Methods: Thirty-six patients (mean age 87 years) were recruited and randomized into 2 groups. The control group received usual care and the intervention group received individualized physical exercise (1 daily session) for 3 consecutive days. Primary endpoints were the duration and severity of delirium (4-AT, Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale) and change in functional status (Barthel Index, Short Physical Performance Battery, Hierarchical Assessment of Balance and Mobility [HABAM], and handgrip strength). Secondary endpoints included length of stay, falls, and health outcomes at 1- and 3-month follow-up.

Results: The intervention group showed more functional improvement at discharge (HABAM, P = .015) and follow-up (Barthel, P = .041; Lawton P = .027). Less cognitive decline was observed at 1 and 3 months (Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly, P = .017). Exercise seemed to reduce delirium duration by 1 day and contribute to delirium resolution at discharge, although findings did not reach statistical significance. No exercise-related adverse events occurred.

Conclusion and implications: Findings suggest that individualized exercise in acutely hospitalized older patients with delirium is safe and may improve delirium course and help preserve post-hospitalization function and cognition.

CITATION  J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2024 Apr 6:S1525-8610(24)00204-4.  doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2024.02.018