Journal of advanced nursing vol:27 issue:1 pages:59-67
Regaining independence in the performance of activities of daily living (ADL) is a nursing priority in the postoperative care of hip fracture patients, though often impeded by a temporary yet reversible decrease in cognitive status postoperatively. This study investigated the incidence and evolution of decreased cognitive status in geriatric hip fracture patients from admission through to the fifth postoperative day, and the relationship between cognitive abilities and functional (ADL) status. Twenty-six elderly hip fracture patients (f: 21, m: 5) with a mean age of 79.5 years (SD = 8.2) admitted to the emergency room of an academic medical centre were monitored longitudinally from admission until the fifth postoperative day regarding neurocognitive status and ADL status, as measured by the mini-mental state exam (MMSE; including subscales of memory, linguistic ability, concentration and psychomotor executive skills) and an adapted version of the Katz ADL-scale, respectively. Patients were categorized on the basis of cognitive status as follows: no cognitive impairment (MMSE > or = 24), moderate (MMSE < or = 23 but > or = 18) and severe impairment (MMSE < or = 17). Nineteen of the 26 patients (73.1%) showed cognitive impairment (MMSE < or = 23) at some point in time before and/or after surgery. Some improvement in cognitive status was observed yet only selectively across patient cohorts and neurocognitive dimensions. Cognitive status, especially memorial ability and psychomotor executive skills, seemed to be most vulnerable to becoming impaired after hip fracture surgery. A relationship was found between cognitive and functional status, specifically, strong associations between memory and psychomotor skills relative to ADL and modest associations between linguistic ability and concentration relative to ADL. Further, patients with decreased cognitive status postoperatively remained more ADL-dependent than non-impaired patients. This study underscores the importance of a systematic assessment of the cognitive status of elderly hip fracture patients and linking these observations to functional ability in order to enhance the postoperative rehabilitation of this patient group.