After Breaking a Hip Psychological Resilience Benefits Your Walking, Study Shows

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Hip fracture represents a catastrophic event for older adults because many never regain the level of physical function they possessed prior to the fracture.

However, in a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that included 210 community-dwelling older adults who had surgery following hip fracture, participants who reported feeling high levels of psychological resilience—or the ability to bounce back or recover from personal challenges—were later able to walk faster and longer than those feeling less resilient. Investigators measured psychological resilience through a questionnaire provided at the start of the study, and they assessed walking capacity at the start as well as 16 weeks later.

“We believe these results support opportunities to improve walking capacity following hip fracture in older adults by devising multicomponent interventions combining targeted exercise with psychological resilience-enhancing programs,” said corresponding author Richard H. Fortinsky, Ph.D., professor and Health Net, Inc. Endowed Chair in Geriatrics and Gerontology at UConn School of Medicine and the UConn Center of Aging, the new home of one of the nation’s prestigious Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers.

Fortinsky co-directs the new UConn Pepper Center with Dr. George Kuchel, director of the UConn Center on Aging and professor, Travelers Chair in Geriatrics and Gerontology at UConn Health. There are only 14 other Pepper Centers of excellence nationwide, named in honor of the late U.S. senator who championed research and education aimed at helping older adults maintain their independence.

“Targeting older adults with lower psychological resilience after hip fracture can help identify those most likely to benefit from innovative interventions,” stresses Kuchel. “This study highlights the importance of Precision Gerontology which is a major focus for the UConn Pepper Center.”

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