Implementation of a Focused, Intensive Repeated Stepping Program of Inpatient Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC)
RRTC on Improving Measurement of Medical Rehabilitation Outcomes
Submitted by Jenni Moore, T. George Hornby, Linda Lovell, Elliot Roth, Roberta Virva and John Butzer
The objective of this project is to evaluate feasibility and effectiveness of a high-intensity walking training program, titled Focused, Intensive Repeated Stepping Training (FIRST), which will be implemented into clinical inpatient rehabilitation at two separate sites. The participating inpatient rehabilitation facilities include the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) in Chicago, Illinois, and Mary Free Bed (MFB) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This project has two primary components. The first is a KT project that aims to implement a gait outcome measurement (OM) battery (Years 1 and 2) and a high-intensity walking training program (Years 3 and 5) at MFB. In the second project, we will examine the effectiveness of the gait training program on short- and long-term mobility outcomes, health, and community participation in adults with stroke.
Recovery of walking early following stroke, spinal cord injury (SCI), or acquired brain injury (ABI) is a primary goal of patients and their families, although return of independent locomotion depends largely on the magnitude and location of the injury. Most patients with stroke or ABI can recover some gait function (80% to 95%)Footnote 1,Footnote 2,Footnote 3, but only 25% of those with SCI (50% motor incompleteFootnote 4, Footnote 5) walk independently. For those who do recover, most walk at slow speeds and for limited distances, with devices often required for safety. The extent of walking ability is often a primary predictor of discharge destination following rehabilitationFootnote 6, Footnote 7, subsequent health statusFootnote 8, and community participation status.Footnote 9, Footnote 10 Studies suggest that even small decreases in gait speed from baseline are associated with significant increases in health care utilization (e.g., number of medical/surgical visits, hospitalization duration) with costs approaching ~$1200/year.Footnote 11
Reasons that patients do not achieve greater stepping practice include lack of accessibility to current evidence, availability of adequate equipment, and therapists' adherence to traditional interventions.Footnote 26 Few studies have attempted to implement focused stepping interventions during inpatient rehabilitation to examine their feasibility and effectiveness on long-term outcomes.
At RIC, we were able to successfully implement a gait OM battery and the FIRST programFootnote 27, Footnote 28 in inpatient rehabilitation stroke programs. This program resulted in average amounts of stepping that were five to six times greater than typically achieved, but that varied substantially with the severity of initial or discharge impairments.Footnote 25, Footnote 29 As a result of the program, patients demonstrated substantial improvements in walking and nonwalking tasks that were greater than the outcomes identified in previous retrospective analyses at RICFootnote 28 or published improvements in walkingFootnote 30 and balance.Footnote 31
Understanding the effectiveness of these focused stepping interventions to improve health, mobility, and community participation implemented in the clinical setting may be of extraordinary value to the multiple stakeholders (patients/families, health care professionals) involved in the rehabilitation of these patients.
This project will evaluate the effectiveness of the KT strategies used to implement the gait OM battery and the FIRST program at MFB. The study will evaluate the effectiveness of the KT interventions on clinician behavior and patient outcomes. We will utilize the Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) framework as a step-by-step process for implementation, which is briefly described next.
Identify the problem related to use of outcomes and evidence in clinical practice (Years 1–5)
Online surveys will be administered annually to identify the beliefs, barriers, and facilitators toward use of OMs and intensive gait training to stakeholders at RIC and MFB (clinicians, administrators, patients).32 Specific measures are being collected to identify organization and clinic staff values, beliefs, and readiness to change. We will also use information gained from these surveys to identify appropriate strategies to implement the gait OM battery and the FIRST intervention.
Implement standardized outcome measures (Years 1–5)
A gait OM battery was implemented at MFB during the first year of the grant. The KT strategies used to implement the OMs included an educational session, mentoring, engaging participation from leadership, monthly chart audit and feedback, and weekly reminders. We also recruited a local champion from MFB to advocate for the project. In addition, adapted guidelines that describe recommended use of the standard OM battery were provided to MFB. The OMs are collected on admission, weekly, and at discharge by staff physical therapists.
Delivery of the FIRST program in the clinical inpatient setting (ongoing data collection at RIC Years 1–5; implemented at MFB Years 3, 4, 5)
The FIRST project is an ongoing project on stroke units at RIC; therefore, fidelity and outcome data will be collected throughout the grant period.28 During implementation of the FIRST project at MFB, we will provide online and live education courses, mentoring, leadership support, chart audit and feedback, and regular reminders about the program. Furthermore, we will regularly discuss the project, including its barriers and facilitators, with stakeholders at MFB to determine whether additional KT strategies are required. Methods for alleviating barriers to the FIRST program will be tailored to meet the clinicians’ needs.
To ensure ongoing implementation of the project, a sustainability plan will be developed and executed in Years 4 and 5. The plan will include ongoing compliance feedback to clinicians and managers, the inclusion of OMs and gait training intervention reports during team conferences, and clinician incentives for using OMs and the FIRST program in clinical practice.
To date, we have implemented the OM battery at MFB and have been monitoring the treatment fidelity of the program at RIC. At MFB, clinician compliance with administration of the gait OM battery averaged 46% during the first month after implementation. After using the additional KT strategies, including chart audit and feedback, reminders, and mentoring, compliance increased to as high as 100%. Although the recent audit produced these perfect results, the average compliance, not including the first month, is ~86%.
Future plans for evaluation will include the determination of the impact of the FIRST project on clinicians’ behavior related to use of the gait training protocol, impact of the FIRST program on short- and long-term patient outcomes, and an evaluation of the cost effectiveness of implementation of the program.
Lessons Learned or Learning
Throughout implementation of this program, we have encountered ongoing barriers that have been addressed. Implementation requires a sustained effort with ongoing stakeholder feedback to determine barriers, facilitators, and ways in which we can support successful KT.
Free online education modules are currently in development. The laboratory website is:
- Footnote 1
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Katz, D. I., Polyak, M., Coughlan, D., Nichols, M., & Roche, A. (2009). Natural history of recovery from brain injury after prolonged disorders of consciousness: Outcome of patients admitted to inpatient rehabilitation with 1–4 year follow-up. Progress in Brain Research, 177:73–88.
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Ryan, A. S., Dobrovolny, C. L., Silver, K. H., Smith, G. V., & Macko, R. F. (2000). Cardiovascular fitness after stroke: Role of muscle mass and gait deficit severity. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 9(4):185–91.
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